Why the Police and Fire Commission Isn't Getting Involved in the PD Dispute

By: Tina Stein
By: Tina Stein

The main purpose of the Rockford Police and Fire Commission is to hire, promote and discipline. But they can only discipline members of police or fire departments if there's been a formal complaint filed with the board.

Commission Secretary Brendan Maher (non-voting member) says there has not been a formal complaint made against Chief Chet Epperson. However the Police Union has taken a no confidence vote and asked for his resignation. Some members don't like how Epperson is enforcing the rules, but Maher says that's not enough to remove the chief.

"The events of last night the events of the no confidence vote none of those things really directly involve bringing charges to the commission," he says.

Maher says any regular citizen could file a formal complaint against a member of the police or fire department. But that person must have strong evidence that there's misconduct. Which Maher says while many people don't like Epperson, it doesn't mean there's misconduct being done by the Chief.

Epperson is out of town for a conference. Our calls to his cell phone were not returned. Rockford aldermen announced last night they'll meet to discuss this ongoing battle with both the Police Union and Chief by the end of the month.

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  • by fred on Nov 17, 2007 at 08:32 PM
    The police union endorsed Mayor Morrissey as their candidate 2 yrs ago. Also, what do you think are two of the biggest causes of police overtime? Try On The Waterfront and Fourth of July. Maybe the Chief should implement a plan to bill the not-for-profits for the extra overtime caused by the festival. Lastly, the Chief's own study conducted by Northwestern University shows the department is short 80 officers. It's cheaper to pay overtime to the existing cops than it is to go out and hire more cops. You would think that the Chief would understand this, apparently he doesn't.
  • by Anti-Janet Location: Rockford on Nov 16, 2007 at 09:51 PM
    To Janet: The cop union did support Morrissey's mayoral bid...once. Also, do you know what two of the biggest causes of police overtime are each year? On the Waterfront and Fourth of July. Perhaps the City should bill that overtime back to the Waterfront & Fourth of July organizers? Not to mention that it's cheaper for the city to pay overtime than to go out do what is really needed (as identified by Chief Chet's report from Northwestern University)...hire 80 more cops.
  • by James Location: Rockford on Nov 16, 2007 at 12:52 PM
    By the way, Janet, I am all for change if that change means something better for the community. I can't say I have seen that with this administration. Secondly, if the union feels there is a need to request Eppersons resignation then I think there must be a reason far beyond what Morrissey is stating. It seems to me that he is down playing some very serious issues that need to be addressed if we are to have any amount of cohesive integrity within the police department and the city as a whole. The union has stated very specific and legitimate reasons for wanting Epperson out. What has Epperson's response been? They dont like me because I want change? Come on! He has not implimented anything new that I can see. new names for old systems of policing mean nothing more than a grand gesture of ego and arrogance from a man who, although, educated doesnt seem to have a complete thought in his head. Sorry, thats just the way it looks from the outside in.
  • by James Location: Rockford on Nov 16, 2007 at 12:32 PM
    I seem to recall the police essentially endorsing Morrissey for Mayor because he claimed to be very pro police. Without the support of police and fire I don't think he or any other independent would have stood a chance. So, I have to disagree with you there, Janet. Based on everything I have been reading and hearing about this mess I have to believe the unions battle has little to do with contracts or lack of overtime. Overtime has been cut before and both police and fire are routinely without contracts given the length of time it takes to actually settle them in arbitration. Since the union members have never had a vote of no confidence in the history of the department I believe there is much more going on. I haven't fully made up my mind where I stand on this issue but I'm willing to dig deeper as I think you and everyone else should. It's far too easy for folks to blame overtime and contracts for this dispute but that is just an easy answer for the administration in my opinion.
  • by Janet Location: Rockford on Nov 16, 2007 at 11:21 AM
    James - Anyone who is familiar with the police union knows that they never wanted Morrissey in the position of Mayor because he's not part of the "good old boy" regime that has ruled Rockford in the past. He was elected because Rockford wanted a change and some of those changes have been implemented - ie. Epperson as Chief of Police. So, like children who don't get what they want (and probably would have gotten under past administrations), they took their toys and went home. And the way the union is acting as a result of the changes being made - such as less overtime, which was way out of hand - the union took the vote of no-confidence. Talk about whiney! I certainly haven't heard Epperson whine, but I sure have heard plenty of it from the union. They apparently liked everything "status quo" and can't handle being accountable for their actions on the job. Lastly, a union DEMANDING the removal of the chief? Nothing but grandstanding and a political game, in my opinion.
  • by James Location: Rockford on Nov 16, 2007 at 09:29 AM
    I just posted on the other wifr blog but I had one more comment. Until Morrissey and Epperson were put in charge this city was doing pretty well. We have never had a problem within the police department before, so why now? Why have so many top police officials left after Epperson became chief? There is obviously more to this story than the administration wants us to know about. Where is the media in all of this? Why is Epperson and Morrissey saying crime is down when it is not? Why are they going after a couple of cops who posted a few anonymous messages on a blog? Who is paying for the teams of lawyers to go after these cops? The taxpayers, who else? Id rather have my tax dollars go toward more cops than some personal vendetta by an arrogant, whiney chief who got his feelings hurt. Man, grow up! Where are your priorities? I've never seen a public official make so many blunders in so little time. This guy couldnt find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight.
  • by Taxpayer on Nov 15, 2007 at 03:40 PM
    "Rescue Rockford, Remove Larry"......and Epperson while were at it. (Censored for the faint of heart)
  • by Rosemary Location: River district on Nov 15, 2007 at 11:48 AM
    I'm sorry to say that I have no faith in Chief Epperson or Mayor Morrissey. I have seen firsthand how these two men handle themselves and it's deeply disturbing. Chief Epperson seems incapable of answering the most basic questions about the state of our city and the crime rate. He is not versed on what is happening on a daily basis and offers no compassion or kindness to victims of crime in our city. He just seems cold and oblivious and terribly confused! Mayor Morrissey is arrogant beyond his years. Why he chooses to back the chief makes no sense to me other than he doesnt want to admit how wrong he was. Very childish indeed.
  • by Nancy Paulson Location: Rockford, Ill on Nov 14, 2007 at 04:43 PM
    I support our mayor and police chief. I think they are doing there best to clean up a town and department that is out of control. As a tax payer in Winnebago county, I am alarmed at our crime rate. Rockford's tax rate is one of the highest in our nation. The streets are deteriorating. The school system is poor. We talk about attracting new business to Rockford and luring our young professionals to move back here to raise a family. Get real, Rockford. What is the attraction??? Police officers who rarely come to work and watch pornography when they do!!! I know most of the department is hard working but you are allowing your poor performers to embarrass the department. As a law enforcement union, all I can say is shame on you! You do not make me proud!
  • by El Location: Rockford on Nov 14, 2007 at 03:11 PM
    We are lucky to have Chief Epperson. The Police should grow up and cut the antics
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