Rockford and Pope County make a study in contrasts. They’re about as far apart, literally and figuratively, as two places within Illinois can be, separated by almost 400 miles and many cultural, economic, and environmental differences.
Rockford is a historically industrial, ethnically diverse city with a population of about 147,000 near Illinois’s northern boundary. Pope County is our state’s most sparsely populated county, encompassing about 4,000 residents. It’s located along the Ohio River in southeastern Illinois, and much of it lies within the Shawnee National Forest.
Fostering constructive discussion and mutual understanding between Illinoisans from places like Rockford and Illinoisans from places like Pope County is one of the main goals of our program series, The Country and the City: Common Ground in the Prairie State?.
As a result of a program in that series, “Local Law Enforcement & Community Relations,” we met Carla Redd, an assistant deputy chief with the Rockford Police Department, and Jerry Suits, the sheriff of Pope County. Both Chief Redd and Sheriff Suits serve the communities in which they were raised and with which they identify.
With assistance from our friends at WNIJ 89.5 FM in DeKalb and WSIU 91.9 FM in Carbondale, we invited Chief Redd and Sheriff Suits to compare their perspectives as law enforcement officers who serve their own Illinois communities – one urban, the other rural. You can hear our conversation with them at northernpublicradio.org or wsiu.drupal.publicbroadcasting.net.
We’re now making exciting plans for the next season of The Country and the City: Common Ground in the Prairie State?.