Citizens met in groups and took down notes regarding what they want to see in Rockford’s next police chief at a community input session held at the Millennium Center. Rockford aldermen hosted the event to get suggestions on finding a replacement for recently retired chief, Chet Epperson.
The suggestions made from the public during the meeting will be given to the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners, who will select the next chief.
Third Ward Alderman Tom McNamara says, “I think you can certainly see how critical the position of police chief is. It’s one that can help unite a city, [or] it’s one that can help divide it.”
Resident Joe Owen says curbing Rockford’s violent crime problem and declining arrest rates should be one of the top priorities for the city’s next top cop.
He says, “Whoever is selected has to not be reactive, but proactive in addressing crime, and needs to take an ideological point of view of crime and finding its roots.”
Rockford activist Stanley Campbell credits Epperson for a decline in ‘Use of Force’ complaints against the department, and the former chief’s efforts to build trust between officers and the community.
But, Campbell also adds that he wants the next chief to have a better relationship with officers than Epperson. The retired chief clashed with the police union during his nine years leading the department.
The next input session will be Tuesday December 16th at 6:30pm at Flynn Middle School.