ROCKFORD—Hopes are high that the newest Rockford police station, in District 2, will provide a positive influence to an area that suffered in known and unknown ways from the building’s former use as an abortuary.
On Jan. 25, a ribbon-cutting, blessing and open house was held at what was originally Turner School, built in 1898 at 1410 Broadway.
Dignitaries including Rockford City Police Chief Dan O’Shea and Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey spoke about their hopes for the new, three station, geo-policing effort meant to build connections between law enforcement officers and the surrounding community, helping both groups to become familiar with each other and be a “place to forge relationships,” according to Mayor Morrissey.
Although all of the speakers only referred to the building as the former Turner School, when Bishop David Malloy was introduced, his blessing did acknowledge in a brief but clear way the 30 years when abortions took place within those walls.
“Lord God, as we bless and offer this facility to you for the protection of peoples, we ask you to cast from it any presence or power of darkness,” he prayed. “We pray for your forgiveness and healing for our offenses against the gift of life. May your light and radiance bless its walls and occupy its spaces … Bless the officers, administrators, staff and those they serve. As they seek to serve and protect, protect human life, families and individuals, and all of Rockford, bless them in their endeavors … .”
In addition to his spoken blessing, Bishop Malloy blessed and sprinkled holy water in the former gym where the ribbon cutting took place. He then traveled throughout the building — into every unlocked room on the main floor, second floor and basement — sprinkling holy water as he moved through the crowd during the open house.
People here and there stopped to thank him for his acknowledgement and for his prayers for the people who now will be working from that building, which has undergone extensive renovation.
One woman spoke to him briefly about prolife efforts, including the assistance from the building’s previous neighbor, Don Brady of the Rockford Labor News.
This District 2 station houses its own operations bureau (patrol, community services); the central reporting unit, which operates from 8-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; school resource officers; crime analysis and intelligence unit; centralized investigations bureau (financial and property crimes, gangs, sensitive crimes, violent crimes, afternoon-shift detectives), and the chaplains office.
The gym will serve as a community room that can be reserved for a variety of community functions.
District 3 on New Towne Drive in East Rockford was the first to be dedicated. The date for the completion and dedication of the District 1 station, to be located on the west side of town at West State and South Avon streets, has not been set.