Epperson Talks About Police Response

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Rockford police say they're learning from Ferguson, Missouri.

Five years ago Rockford Police were in a similar situation after the deadly officer involved shooting of Mark Barmore.

23 News Reporter Mike Buda talked today with Police Chief Chet Epperson to find how his department's police response has changed.

Dozens of new procedures are now in place in the Rockford Police Department following the Barmore shooting in August 2009 and events like Ferguson brings back similar feelings for everyone involved.

"It's tragic what's taken place down there. Lessons learned to see what's going on down there when the reports come out at some point. Obviously, those departments that don't want to repeat, same trends of other agencies look to see what those reports say and position your departments so you don't repeat the same things that take place," Epperson said.

Epperson spoke in front of a business management class at his Alma mater Rockford University Saturday morning. The police chief talked with students about community policing, problem solving and his department's use of force.

Since the Barmore shooting the number of times Rockford Police Officers got physical with suspects was more than 2,400 times. Last year the number dropped to under 1,400.

"We've got a very good police department and how we manage its use of force, our complaints and we're doing a very good job with our community policing and problem solving policing. Our District 2 operations is having very good trending. The residents in the city of Rockford should be very proud of this police department and its officers are doing a tremendous job," Epperson said.

Epperson says following the Barmore shooting the independent assessment monitoring team gave 33 recommendations to Rockford police and 32 were implemented. One of those changes came in the form of the creation of the Winnebago/Boone County Integrity Task Force which investigates all officer involved shootings and incidents.

The task force is still investigating the fatal crash that left Rockford woman Karen Williams dead after a group of alleged robbery suspects smashed into her car while fleeing from police earlier this month.