Geo-Policing Plan Moves Forward

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- The city of Rockford is moving forward with a plan to de-centralize the police department. Today Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson named a new district commander. Starting tomorrow, Lt. Doug Pann, will be in charge of what’s typically the most dangerous area of Rockford, called District 2. District 2 is in the middle of the city, running from the river to 20th. The new position doesn't mean day to day operations are changing.

This is the first step this city has taken to officially implement its geo-policing strategy.

The city is already broken down into three districts, but now the Police Chief wants to open up at least three separate police departments, moving headquarters out of the public safety building. But the union says it’s too expensive and requires even more manpower which doesn't make sense because the department is already down nearly 20 officers.

"We're physically short 18 people, and then you couple that in with people who are sick, that are long-term sick, and then you've got a number of officers that are off because of officer involved shootings. So, this department is very committed to getting everybody back to work,” said Rockford Police Chief, Chet Epperson.

The next batch of new officers won't be hired until the end of 2013. In the meantime, the Chief says the goal is to get a new Police Department set up for District 2 somewhere in the middle of the city. So far, no leases have been signed.

City leaders won't say how much the new police buildings could cost. Tonight on the 23 News update at 10, Meghan Dwyer will have more specifics on what changes might be coming to the department in 2013.

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