5th Ward Meeting Focuses On Officer Involved Shootings

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Two of Rockford's most recent officer involved shootings have happened in the 5th Ward and months later many neighbors there still have questions.

Thursday night they got to bring those questions straight to Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson. About 25 people showed up to the meeting at the Booker Washington Center. Some were from the 5th Ward, some were not, but everyone got a short tutorial on the Winnebago County Integrity Task Force.

That group investigates officer involved shootings, like the shooting of Logan Bell, 18, back in October. Chief Epperson says a full review of incidents like Bell's death can take up to four months to complete. That's because it can take weeks to process DNA evidence and to complete witness statements. Many in the audience said, before the meeting, they didn't know what the holdup is, and they'd like more clarity about the investigation process.

“One of the things that frustrates people is not knowing what is going on and knowledge is power. I think it helps us get away sometimes from rushing to judgment and becoming angry about situations rather than understanding and helping to work towards resolution," says 5th Ward Alderman Venita Hervey.

Epperson says he's going to propose to the task force that in the future, they give out more frequent updates on the status of investigations, such as telling the public when witness interviews have wrapped up so neighbors don't feel like they're in the dark.

Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey also attended the meeting and says he and the Chief are planning similar question and answer sessions in other parts of the city later in the year.

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