RPD Deputy Chief: 'Rockford has a gang problem' and members are - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

RPD Deputy Chief: 'Rockford has a gang problem' and members are getting younger


Suspects, as young as 12-years-old, are committing violent crimes on Rockford streets.

Police said the younger criminals are no strangers to organized crime, either.

Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson said this week at a community meeting, the cause of this summer's spike in violent crime can be placed in two categories: young offenders targeting the elderly and domestic violence.

Susan Singh is a longtime Rockford resident.  She said it's painfully obvious there's a crime problem in town.

"I'm very cautious," said Singh.  "I look all around, all the time.  I'm always looking around because I don't feel safe."

From carjackings to armed robberies, the younger suspects have caught Rockford Police's attention.

"Rockford has a gang problem, and we have to face up to the fact that we do," said Deputy Chief Dave Hopkins.

Hopkins leads the Rockford Police Department's Investigative Services Bureau.

He said there are around 25 gangs spread out all over town.

 "They're on the east side and the west side," said Hopkins.  "We have Latin Kings, Gangster Disciples, the Insane Unknowns, Get Money Team, the Goons," said Hopkins.

The list goes on and on.

Hopkins said his gang investigators know who the members are and store their information in a database.  Information that can be used to track down suspects or leads in a case.  He said members are getting younger and younger, some aged 14.

"In many of these cases, there are gang members involved," said Hopkins.  "But it's not so much gang against gang.  It could be that one gang member has the perception that the other one has been disrespectful to him."

Hopkins said the young offenders are not thinking of the consequences of their actions.

"They are many times untrained, and they are willing to pull the trigger," said Hopkins.  "Now, what are we going to do about it.  Law enforcement will do it's part, but we can't do it all."

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