Chief Dave Jones

Housing complex earns Rockford’s top honors for safety

September 1, 2011 // 0 Comments

Hillview Townhouses recognized by police department                             Children play at a picnic held in honor of Hillview Townhouses’ Thousand Eyes Award in honor of completing a crime-free gold certificate program. by BETH ALTENA Suzanne Hewitt remembers her very first day at Hillview Townhouses, a housing complex in Rockford. “The bus came and the school children got off and several of them lit up cigarettes and started smoking. I thought to myself, ‘You’ve got your work cut out for you.’” That was 15 years ago and today Hillview Townhouses is a nearly crime-free zone, with residents who are quiet and respectful of their neighbors and who know that there is a zero-tolerance policy on illegal drugs. It is a safe, friendly place to live with a large green area, playground and pavilion where families play and have picnics. Many of the residents of the 135-unit complex continue to live there in their old age. Hewitt is proud that it is a place where the young and elderly can feel safe. “I think it is something we are all called on to do—take care of the elderly and children“ she said. On Monday, July 11, the complex and Hewitt in particular were recognized by the Rockford Police Department, including Chief Dave Jones and Program Coordinator Officer Ian Graham, for successful completion in a program designed with safety in mind. Hewitt said she had been working to make the housing complex a crime-free zone when she was approached by Officer Mike Miller about taking some training classes along those same lines. “They were full days of training, learning about how to be a crime-free property, and we were further ahead already because we had already done a lot of that work,” Hewitt said. Simple steps like making sure lighting is adequate and shrubs are managed—to make sure they don’t offer hiding places for those interested in lurking—were steps Hewitt had accomplished on her own. Having very few spots that might appeal to a criminal were commonsense steps employed. With the department partnering with the complex to prevent as well as deal with crime, Hewlett feels the level of safety has reached a new height. “They […]

State recognition just latest in long line of policing progress

October 21, 2010 // 0 Comments

Solving parks/property destruction the result of problem-solving efforts “It was Rockford’s shining night,” Police Chief Dave Jones described the evening ceremonies on Tuesday, October 10, when the entire Rockford Police Department earned the distinction of being the Outstanding Unit of all the members of the Crime Prevention Association of Michgan.   Jones made the bold move of nominating the entire department for the honor that usually goes to a committee or group of officers whose duties are dedicated to community policing. With 13 officers, Jones said every officer in the department is trained in and implements community policing practices on a daily basis. He said community policing goes beyond outreach programs such as D.A.R.E and National Nite Out and said problem solving policing is at the core of community policing practices. If you feel safe in our local parks lately, thank community policing. Jones described a four-prong model of problem-solving his department implemented over the course of years to curb increasing vandalism incidents Rockford faced a few years ago. With the acronym SARA, for Scan, Analyze, Respond and Assess, the long-term result are a good example of community policing in action. Not long ago, there was a chronic problem in downtown with youth incidents of destruction and even harassment. The Ten Mile Bridge overpass was awash in graffiti. A toilet in the Welcome Center was blown up. Welcome signs to the City were repeatedly destroyed. Picnic tables, gazebos and benches were being damaged repeatedly. “It got to the point people didn’t feel safe in our parks, particularly the fitness trail to the west of Richardson-Sowerby Park,” Jones said. He said that area had become a congregating area for drug use and dealing, profanity. “We all know kids will be kids, but when people didn’t feel safe, we felt it was time to take action.” Jones said fighting the escalating vandalism wasn’t a quick-fix and started with a grant that allowed the department to install cameras for areas where vandalism was occurring. He then set aside some of his part-time budget to hire officers who were dedicated to park patrol during the summer. Rockford’s Department of Public Service was also enlisted. “As soon as an incident took place, they cleaned it up,” Jones stated. “If they […]

Rockford youths arrested in drug sting

December 3, 2009 // 0 Comments

The Rockford Police Department arrested 15 local teenagers today completing a four month investigation into drug use and vandalism in local parks. Chief Dave Jones reported that an undercover officer has been working in the area parks, particularly the areas surrounding Richardson Sowerby Park, located beneath the 10 Mile bridge. The undercover officer was able to buy marijuana from three of the youths Jones said. Others were charged with Use of Marijuana, and Destruction of Property. The investigation was in response to several complaints received from park users about the unruly behavior of the teenagers this summer, Jones said. All of the offenders have been prohibited from using any city park for at least one year, using a newly enacted local ordinance allowing for expulsion from the parks if parks rules are broken. “It is our responsibility to create a safe and user friendly environment for park users in the City,” said Jones. “These young people were using our parks as their personal playground for illegal activity. Our hope is that the arrests are a learning experience for those involved and they find better things to do in their spare time.”