‘We need more responses’ | Rockford minister argues for reform after fatal deputy-involved shooting

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — After a Winnebago County Sheriff’s deputy pulled the trigger during a weekend call, questions are raised in the community.

A local pastor tells us that law enforcement domestic violence training could use a second glance.

Following Saturday’s fatal deputy involved shooting, a local minister is worried more domestic violence calls could end in the same way.

“If we want folks to call for help, if they’re worried the police will overreact and kill their partner,” said Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson of The Unitarian Universalist Church. “Then they’re less likely to call for help, so that’s a problem.”

Senior Minister Rev. Johnson says more police training and better forms of response is needed.

“I want to back up from the moment the officer, the deputy, is in the house as he swings the pipe. At that moment the officer is following their training they’re doing what they’re required to do, and I understand that, but back it up what happened before the deputy went in the house? Back it up. What happened earlier in the day? Back it up. What happened three weeks ago, a month ago…”Rev. Johnson said.

“If our only response is to send armed officers then we will keep getting this reaction, we need more responses,” argued the pastor.

We asked the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office for more details on officer training, They referred us to the Northern Illinois Training Advisory Board.

“It provides the officer, both correctional and law enforcement, the knowledge and tools to perform their duties to the best of their abilities,” said executive director for NITAB Deborah Alms.

Alms says domestic violence training is mandated by the state of Illinois.

“For domestic violence, we’ll also bring in clinicians who have their clinical emphasis is on domestic violence,” she explained.

“The officers themselves say probably the two most potentially volatile situations are traffic stop and domestic violence calls.”

Training or not, Rev. Johnson says Saturday’s shooting could create new worries for victims of domestic violence.

“If you don’t have to don’t do it, wait outside, call a negotiator. Police are trained to deescalate, and what we know of this situation so far, it seems like that didn’t happen,” said Johnson.

The Winnebago-Boone County Integrity Task Force is expected to release the identity of the officer and victim by the end of this week.

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