By Jim Hagerty
ROCKFORD — Year-end crime statistics from 2017 showed an improvement over the previous year, city officials reported Thursday.
According to numbers released by the city, property crime was down 8 percent last year while violent crimes were down 5 percent. There were 11 fewer aggravated assaults and 122 fewer robberies, Police Chief Dan O’Shea said during a news conference at Police District 1.
Homicides were down in Rockford, too. There were 18 killing reported in 2017, down from 26 the year before, the most since 1996 when there were 31.
Mayor Tom McNamara said the improvement can be attributed to the city’s commitment to community engagement and a positive change in morale within the police department.
“We are making progress, but we still have a long way to go,” McNamara said. “City Council and myself have committed that public safety is the No. 1 concern in our community. The council is not only committed with their thoughts, but with their actions.”
Those actions have included several technological additions to the force. Aldermen have recently approved the purchase of a gunshot-detection system, license plate readers and social analytic software to aid in investigations of serious crimes, the mayor said.
The city has also recently added 17 members to the police department’s staff, including five officers paid for by a $625,000 federal grant.
Those investments and more community engagement has also aided police in solving crimes, which O’Shea said has meant a better overall solvability rate.
“A lot of these successes in these crimes going down is because of the amount of community members who have stepped up (by) contacting us, providing information and talking to detectives.” the chief said. “A lot of solvability comes from the community talking to the police. I firmly believe that having officers out in the community and engaged in the community is paying off.” R.
The Rock River Times will have more on this story in next week’s print edition.