Rockford Police target parolees with new strategy - – Rockford’s News Leader

Rockford Police target parolees with new strategy

Lt. March Welsh (5th from the right) talks about call-ins. Lt. March Welsh (5th from the right) talks about call-ins.
Rev. K. Edward Copeland Rev. K. Edward Copeland

Rockford Police try a new tactic to combat crime and they need your help to make it work. Think of it as a neighborhood meeting of sorts. It will be the chance for the police and the community to put parolees on notice that they will not tolerate any repeat criminal activity.

At any given time about 900 people are on parole in Rockford.  Approximately 200 have committed violent crimes like armed robbery, aggravated battery, even murder. Those are the people the Rockford Police Department plans to target with a call-in.

"They will happen 4 times a year and they'll be at various locations thought the city. And at any given time we will call in 10, 15 even 20 parolees," says Lt. Marc Welsh.

The call-ins involves three parts, a parolee meeting with social service providers, the police and finally the community.

"So that it is not just the police saying one thing it is the people who are actually directly impacted those who live in the neighborhoods saying who are saying, 'Listen, these are our neighborhoods," says Reverend K. Edward Copeland, New Zion Missionary Baptist Church.

The police have teamed up with ministers like Reverend Copeland to bring in the communities members affect by crime. Besides neighbors there will be crime victims and former criminals who have turned their lives around. Parolees will also meet with agencies that can help with things like job training or GED classes. And police plan to send them a clear message that hey will be watching and there will be harsh consequences.

"It's more of an intervention before a crime happens rather than after a crime happens," says Lt. Welsh.

"It's not enough for law enforcement to say, 'Well if the community would do this.' Or for the community to say, 'if law enforcement would do that or social services would do this.' No, it's us. We live here so we need to find a way to come together not only as social service agencies and law enforcement agencies but as the community to set our own standards," says Rev. Copeland.

Police also plan to do these call-ins on an as-needed with some of the most dangerous parolees. No date has been set for the first call-in but police hope to do one in the next few months.

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