ROCKFORD — The number of violent crimes in Rockford has ticked upward 2% so far this year, driven by gun crime and domestic violence.  

Mayor Tom McNamara during a news media briefing Friday said that in a sign that the surge in violence that began in the pandemic may be slowing, the percentage increase is down slightly from a month ago. 

“We are not where we need to be, but we started last month trending in the right direction, and now this month we are continuing that trend further moving in the right direction,” McNamara said. “Still far off from where we want to be and where residents deserve us to be.” 

McNamara reported that through September this year there were 1,710 violent crimes – aggravated assaults, homicides, rapes and armed robberies. That is up 2% from the 1,671 violent crimes reported in the same time period in 2020. 

There were 552 incidents of illegal shots fired in the city through September, 11% more than the 498 in 2020. And police continue to seize large numbers of illegal firearms that are flooding Rockford streets. Police recovered 360 firearms so far this year, 73% more than the 208 confiscated at this time last year.

While gang and gun crime continue to be a driver of violent crime in Rockford, data shows that 40.6% of the violent crimes reported this year have been related to domestic violence. That is 14.5 percentage points more than last year when domestic violence accounted for 26.1% of violent crimes. 

McNamara said that the increased percentage of violent crime attributed to domestic violence could be the result of a combination of factors.

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Those include strides the city has made in providing services for survivors via the Rockford Family Peace Center which encourages more victims to come forward. McNamara said officials had expected the number of reports of domestic violence to increase as they shined a spotlight on the issue and provided improved services. 

There’s also suspicion that the pandemic had made it more difficult for some victims to report domestic violence last year because they were stuck at home with an abuser.  

“It’s really difficult to reach out when that abuser may be out of work and may be stuck in the home,” McNamara said.