Rockford City Council mulls change to allow them to discipline police, fire officials

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — As discussions on police accountability continue following the death of George Floyd, Rockford city leaders are split on the best way to move forward.

Venita Hervey, (D) 5th Ward alderwoman, said, “How do you hold a police officer or a firefighter accountable if they truly engage in bad behavior? And the answer is, as a city council and as a mayor, we have no influence in that process.”

Hervey says members of city council should be more involved in holding firefighters and police officers accountable for their actions.

“Fire and police I think are about 75% of the city budget,” Hervey said. “And we have absolutely no say so over their day-to-day performance.”

Years ago, Hervey unsuccessfully tried to pass a resolution that would give city council the ability to hire, fire, and discipline the police and fire chiefs.

The responsibility currently lies with Rockford’s Fire and Police Commission.

Hervey isn’t sure she will reintroduce a similar policy, but says something needs to change.

“To have your elected officials have no involvement in that process, to me, is just untenable, and I just can’t understand it. But, it’s been that way for a very long time,” she said.

Third Ward Alderman Chad Tuneberg says he doesn’t see a need to change the policy right now.

“The current structure in place has been working, and I would hesitate to hastily make a decision to restructure it from the structure it’s in currently,” he said.

Other alderman, including Tim Durkee and Tony Gasparini, say they would be willing to discuss the role of city council in fire and police department oversight.

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