Rockford is a town that loves to talk in sound bites; maybe it’s because we have such open access to the media, unlike in a major market like Chicago where you can only hope to have a story or issue covered by a news team. Regardless, many of us have become pretty handy with making sure we assist our reporters by talking about an issue in sound bite form – gotta make it easy for the editing process so your message makes it through!
Sometimes though, your sound bites can collide down the road. I’ve found it interesting to watch the collision surrounding the crime problem Rockford has been experiencing. First, public officials talk succinctly about the need to eliminate officers in the Rockford Police Department for budgetary reasons; then we experience an increase in crime and the sound bites flip to the need for better police coverage and how many less officers we have on the streets now versus ten years ago. You can’t expect at least 100 fewer cops to do the same work in a larger territory.
Next, we hear the sound bites about overcrowding in the jail and the need to move prisoners through the system in a more timely fashion. This sound bite runs parallel with the ‘we are experiencing too much of a backlog in prosecuting criminals’. This last one is ridiculous when it is thrown out there and officials aren’t willing to throw some money at the States Attorneys office for more prosecutors or to the courts for more judges to hear the cases.
Then, you have an incident like the Marie’s robbery where three of the robbers have recent criminal records or in other cases are out on bail from their last foray through the justice system. The sound bite then changes to ‘why are these guys back on the streets? Why aren’t they in jail where they belong? We’re going to find out what happened here and make the community safe!’ It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what happened here.
We can’t expect a different scenario than what we’re experiencing now if we continue to shrink our police force, release criminals from jail on little to no bond just to relieve the crowding problem in the jail, shuttle the offenders through court in a hurried process and throw them back on the streets with very little rehabilitation to stem the recidivism.
The sound bites have collided and when taken all together seem silly, in my opinion, of course.