Police Target 'Worst of the Worst'
By Jeff Kolkey
Rockford Register Star
Posted Dec. 19, 2013 @ 4:57 pm
Updated at 5:20 PM
ROCKFORD - Law enforcement officials on Thursday formally introduced the Winnebago County Violent Crimes Task Force that is already targeting suspected gangsters and violent criminals.
Its mission is to reduce violent crime in Rockford and Winnebago County that is worse now than it was in 2005 despite reductions in crime overall, Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson said.
"Really we are putting the criminal element in this city, in this county on notice that if you are a career criminal, we are coming after you," Epperson said. "We have the intelligence, the data and we are going to put cases together."
His comments came at a news conference that included representatives from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and local political leaders.
The Task Force teams detectives from the Rockford Police Department, Loves Park Police Department, Winnebago County Sheriff's Department and the Illinois State Police on a special team of investigators. It also commits those departments to providing officers for a street crimes unit that will target high crime neighborhoods and hotspots for periodic special enforcement efforts. Rockford is charged with operating an intelligence information and data gathering operation for the task force.
The Illinois Department of Corrections and the Winnebago County State's Attorney are participating in the task force and have signed an agreement that spells out what the task force will work on.
Federal agents from the FBI, U.S. Department of Justice and DEA offered statements of support during the news conference.
"Drugs and violence are interwoven, they go hand in hand and DEA wants to make sure we commit our resources, our manpower, our intelligence, and our informants to this type of operation so that we can facilitate the best type of outcome," said Brian Besser of the Rockford DEA.
Illinois State Police Capt. James Winters said that by utilizing an "intelligence-based policing" approach and drawing the best officers in the region for the specialized units the task force is already driving down violent crime.
"It will take the best we have to fight the worst we are seeing out in the street," Winters said. "That's going to be a recipe for success with this task force."
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