Published July 25, 2012 at Rock River Times
It is time for an honest conversation about crime in Rockford, a conversation that focuses on solutions rather than excuses. For far too long, politicians and public officials have gotten away with blaming everything under the sun but themselves for their impotence in the face of the city’s problems. For years they have offered the same solution: raise taxes and pour money into public schools and development projects, with little effect. We need leadership with the courage to change the conversation and get results.
Unfortunately, dissemblance has become a way of life for our public officials. In an interview last week, for example, Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson masterfully side-stepped criticism over Rockford’s embarrassing crime rate. “There is too much crime,” he said. “When we look at crime reduction, crime is the end result. We have to look at poverty, the economy and education. Those are the core components. If we have a crime problem, that is the end. What has happened before that? We are making progress, but there is just too much crime.”
This is an incredible statement because, essentially, Chief Epperson is saying that there is little the police department can do about crime in Rockford. The police department, after all, can do nothing about poverty, education, or the economy. So until “we” fix those things, there is only so much the police can do to keep crime in the city under control. When the crime rate went down last year, however, he was quick to take the credit. Now, when it is on its way back up, it is because of factors outside of his control.