Rockford Police to answer to new citizen oversight board

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Rockford City Council could soon take another step in furthering transparency between police and the community.

Aldermen approved the formation of a Civilian Oversight Board at a committee meeting Monday night. They said that it is another way for citizens to make sure their voices are heard while filing complaint towards the police department.

“We need to be incredibly transparent with our complaint process,” said Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara. “We said, you know what? We can do better and a civilian oversight board,…has the opportunity to really do a number of things.”

Rockford residents can typically file complaints about the police department online or at any of the three stations. However, McNamara said that residents believed their complaints were not being investigated.

“Every complaint that comes in does get investigated, and it’s investigated thoroughly at multiple different levels,” McNamara said. “When you look at all the complaints that come into a police department, about 67% of those complaints come in from our own officers, about our own officers, and so they do a really good job of monitoring themselves.”

The Civilian Oversight Board will now further that investigation, and 11th Ward Alderman Tuffy Quinonez said that this type of board is critical for the community.

“The Civilian Oversight Board is long overdue,” Quinonez said. “It should make the community happy, being the board is made up of the City of Rockford with the percentage of the minority population.”

Seven members would sit on the board, and city officials said that those applying will have to have plenty of time and energy.

“The oversight board will only be as good as the individual seven members,” said 14th Ward Alderman Mark Bonne. “It’s a progressive and proactive thing for the city to do to build trust in the police department.”

“We’ll do an open application process, we’ll have probably a month or two for citizens to get their applications in,” added McNamara. “A big piece of this board will be who’s on it. We want to make sure the board’s reflective of our community.”

The full council could approve the board next Monday

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