New Winnebago County task force targets the 'worst of the worst' - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

New Winnebago County task force targets the 'worst of the worst'

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Chief Jim Puckett (left), Sheriff Richard Meyers and Brian Besser, DEA Resident Agent in Charge (right). Chief Jim Puckett (left), Sheriff Richard Meyers and Brian Besser, DEA Resident Agent in Charge (right).
ROCKFORD (WREX) -

Law enforcement from around Winnebago County combine efforts to target the most violent criminals. A new task force has been in the works for months but partners finally made it official. Agencies like Rockford Police, the Winnebago County Sheriff's Department, Illinois State Police, the DEA decided to partner their resources and information all under a new group, the Winnebago County Violent Crime Task Force

"Everyone involved seems to care about the community, they are trying to come up with innovative measures to try to stop the problems that we see I think we are all sick and tired of it," says Brian Besser, DEA Rockford Resident Agent in Charge.

Law enforcement says it's an attitude told to them by many people. In Rockford, the overall crime rate has been dropping. Since 1998 the city has gone from about 14,000 crimes a year to about 9,000 in 2012. But when it comes to the violent crime rate which includes murders, robberies, sexual assaults those numbers climbed during that same time period. This new task force's mission is to change that.

"It's not going to be random. It's really going to target the worst of the worst offenders," says Captain Jim Winters, Illinois State Police.

The group will do that using each others information and sometimes manpower.

"Gangs or if it be domestic violence or it be anything that is driving the violent crime rate in Winnebago County we are all committed to add those resources, personnel and reduce the violent crime." says Chief Chet Epperson, Rockford Police Department.

"If you live in Winnebago County, you come to Winnebago County and you commit crime and it's going to be serious crime, be assured we are coming to get you," says Chief Jim Puckett, Loves Park Police Department.

The task force has been operating since September but just finalized a written agreement. In the last few months it has arrested multiple gang members on drug and weapons charges.

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