UPDATE: The attorney for Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson is trying to get a complaint filed against the chief, by the police union, thrown out.
Attorney Thomas McGuire has filed several motions in circuit court. He says the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners does not have the authority to hear this case. He says only the mayor has the authority to discipline the chief since the mayor hires the chief.
Attorneys for the union disagree, saying the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners hires the chief. 23 News reached out to the board secretary who says the board appoints the chief with the approval from city council.
A judge is expected to decide on whether the case will move forward on July 3rd.
ROCKFORD (WIFR) – Rockford police chief Chet Epperson has filed an unfair labor practice charge against the police union. This is in response to the union filing a complaint against Epperson and how he handled a police call back in October 2013.
Epperson’s attorney Thomas McGuire filed the charge with the labor relations board this morning. He says the union didn’t follow the grievance procedure under their collective bargaining agreement.
Under the Rockford code of ordinances the mayor is given legal authority to file a complaint against the chief and it says the city must prosecute before the board, not a private attorney. That’s part of the reason why McGuire made a motion to dismiss. However, attorneys for the union say the motion doesn’t have any merit and they want a fair hearing.
“What we want to do through this process is have a full, fair, complete investigation of this incident because the police officers in this city are concerned about the chief’s conduct,” said Police Union attorney Dan McGrail.
“The board of Fire and Police Commissioners doesn’t have the authority to go forward with this hearing,” said Epperson’s attorney Thomas McGuire.
The board appointed Attorney and Board Secretary Ian Linnabary as the hearing officer, however Epperson’s attorney objected that motion. He says there’s no provision in the Board of Fire and Police Commission statute allowing them to appoint a hearing officer. However, Linnabary says I former hearings, the courts did acknowledge the board’s hearing officers.
Both parties will meet before the board on July 21st and present arguments on dismissing the hearing.
This all stems from an emergency call at Rockford NAACP president Lloyd Johnstons’ home where the union says Chief Epperson told Johnston not to let police officers inside his home because a supervisor was on the way.