Proposed partnerships aims to keep local talent at Rockford's Fi - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Proposed partnerships aims to keep local talent at Rockford's Fire & Police Departments

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ROCKFORD (WREX) -

From walking the halls of RPS 205, to protecting the streets of Rockford. Alignment Rockford wants to collaborate with the city's fire and police department's to create a talent pipeline. 

"Ultimately we want our students from Rockford Public Schools to get great jobs in our police force and fire department," says Alignment Rockford Executive Director Bridget French. "A local workforce, a diverse workforce, we need more minorities, more women in these fields."

She says they'll do it through creating a task force focused on implementing curriculum as early as elementary school all the way through college. 

"I mean I'm biased, I'm from the community, grew up in the community," says Rockford Fire Chief Derek Bergsten.  "I'd like for us to only hire city of Rockford individuals they're familiar with the community's needs and also they give back to the community."

Bergsten says not only are local hires familiar with the community's needs they also stay on for the long haul. 

"Any time we hire somebody we make a tremendous investment," says Bergsten.  "Not only in time but in monetary dollars for equipment training."

Rockford Police Assistant Deputy Chief Mike Dalke says he moved to the city for an officer position years ago.

"I had to really struggle in learning the streets," says Dalke. "I didn't have that opportunity to have all this background information on people I encountered so it was difficult."

Which is why he says the partnership with Alignment Rockford could give the department a leg up on finding officers with insight to their community. 

"Someone who knows the streets, knows certain parts of the town, knows the culture, I think that only helps them with their job."

Aldermen still need to sign off on the proposed contract.  It'll go before full council for the first time on Tuesday. 

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