ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — The Rock Island Police Department, joined by State's Attorney Dora Villarreal, held a press conference Tuesday afternoon to address the recent gun violence in the city this summer and what they're doing to combat it.
The last four shootings have taken place over only a two-day span, with the last one occurring on July 24, and being fatal.
Chief of Police Richard Landi took the stage around 3 p.m. and recapped the recent history of the shootings before providing additional information.
According to Chief Landi, the rising gun violence is not just a problem in Rock Island, but also in the overall Quad Cities and across the nation. He details that many of the violent incidents have ties to other crimes, especially with recent car thefts.
The suspects are most often either repeat criminal offenders or juveniles primarily engaged in personal vendettas or conflicts, according to police data. Chief Landi also notes that rising gun accessibility, through both legal and illegal channels, is making these incidents worse.
Landi reassures the public that the Department is working hard to get the criminals off the street and bring justice to families, but he does note that there are several procedural issues that present challenges.
Law enforcement cites lack of cooperation from victims and witnesses, a still-COVID-backlogged judicial system, and officer and staff vacancies as several key issues.
State's Attorney Dora Villareal took the stage to address how the justice system is handling operating, saying that her State's Attorney's Office is "all hands on deck" and especially focused on the most violent offenders.
Villareal adds that the office has been able to make several new hires in key departments thanks to American Rescue Plan funds and that they keep at least one prosecutor, as well as many members of the administration, on-call 24/7 to handle cases.
Mayor Mike Thoms took the podium to talk about vacancies in the Police Department, saying that the money to hire officers has been allocated, but the positions have not yet been filled due to both low applications and the COVID-backlogged police academy and training system.
Both Thoms and Chief Landi also stressed the need for the community to be involved in the process.
Officials did not make any comments about crime or violence prevention measures.
The news conference is available in its entirety here.