The Rockford Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation says in 2017 alone, four teenagers between the age of 14 and 17 were recovered by police from the Human Trafficking Sex Trade.
"We know from the mouths of these purchasers that behind Chicago the second most frequent place they come to to perpetrate this violence and prey on our community is Rockford, Illinois," says RAASE Co-founder Jennifer Cacciapaglia.
Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara says on top of those statistics, domestic violence accounts for a third of the city's violent crime. McNamara hired Cacciapaglia to research the issues facing Rockford when it comes to domestic violence and human trafficking, and present some possible solutions.
At Tuesday's city council meeting, she outlined the role a special Mayor's office would play in this fight. The program would aim to coordinate resources across the city, providing a streamlined approach to ending both issues.
She says it's a method that's had proven success in other communities.
"What we've been doing despite our best efforts for so long is not working. Now that we know better, we have to do better."
"I'm not sure how I feel about the Mayor's office and spending money on something that's a county wide problem when once again Rockford becomes the seat," says 5th Ward Alderman Venita Hervey. "I do believe it's a huge problem, I don't want to see it made Rockford's problem, because I honestly don't think that's the case. If it is Rockford's problem it's because everyone is bringing it here to make it Rockford's problem."
"It's certainly not just a Rockford problem," says Mayor McNamara. "I guess I look at it a little differently from the context of that Rockford's the place that people look to lead. And they've looked to this community and this body in particular , they look to this body as leaders to develop creative solutions to our own local problems."
The council did not discuss any financials of this possible office. They'll revisit discussions on the office in two weeks.