UPDATE: Police Union Says Chief's Lawyer Encouraged Officials To Not Comply With Subpoena


UPDATE (6/24/14): The Rockford Police Union cries foul over subpoenas.

Union President, Terry Peterson, claims Police Chief Chet Epperson's lawyer sent an email to several individuals who were subpoenaed urging them not to comply.

The subpoenas were sent by the Fire and Police Commission on June 16.  The emails were sent out on the 17th.

"The chief's failure to comply with the subpoena issued by the Commission demonstrates that he believes he is above the law and reveals his intention to cover up his conduct relating to this matter" Peterson said.

The subpoenas requested documents related to a welfare check involving Epperson and NAACP President Lloyd Johnston.

ROCKFORD - The head of Rockford's police union speaks out for the first time since deciding to resign his post. Terry Peterson is retiring from the police department  but staying on as head of the police union, fighting against a chief he says isn't being held accountable.

It's crime scenes that Rockford police officer Terrence Peterson will soon leave behind.

"You just get the idea or the feeling that it's time," said Peterson, Rockford Police union president.

Peterson is retiring after more than 30 years with the department, but he says his role as the police union president isn't done yet because of  Police Chief Chet Epperson.

"They talk about accountability, and he's accountable to no one," said Peterson.

Peterson and the union have filed a formal complaint with the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners against Chief Epperson. It stems from a welfare call last October at Rockford NAACP president Lloyd Johnston's house. Peterson says Johnston called up the chief on speaker phone. The chief then allegedly told his officers to leave. Peterson says it's just another example of a chief whose lack of leadership is hurting the department and the community.

"In just 8 years, things that he's done to change the organization and how it functions have resulted in, here we are today, with not enough investigators and seven of nine homicides unsolved."

But Mayor Larry Morrissey stands by his chief. Morrissey wouldn't comment directly on the complaint, but said riffs with the union are all too common, and they started long before Chet Epperson became chief.

"We're going to continue to work through our relationship, try to support our department," said Morrissey. "We've got excellent officers, they do great work, and that's what we're focused on."

And Peterson says so is he.

"I want to change that environment, I want to see this place returned to the type of department and type of community it was when I started."

Eyewitness News reached out to Chief Epperson, but he declined to comment on the investigation.

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