ROCKFORD (WIFR) – The NAACP says it hasn’t seen any change in the Rockford Police Department since the 2009 shooting of Mark Barmore that led to the creation of the Integrity Task Force. The NAACP says the Task Force and Police need more diversity, better training, and more communication.
Local NAACP President Lloyd Johnston says he’s meeting with the Integrity Task Force to better diversify the group. He says he’s not sure of the racial makeup of the Task Force but wants to make sure it’s both racially and culturally diverse. This comes after the Task Force recently ruled on police shootings that led to the deaths of Logan Bell and Demetrius Bennett. Johnson says if officers had better training, those men might not have died.
"Its a human issue. It's not a black or white issue, it's a human issue and these officers need appropriate instruction on how to identify whether or not they are being victimized unconsciously by implicit biases that impact the effectiveness of them doing their jobs,” said Johnston.
Rockford officers do go through racial and cultural training, but the NAACP wants them to go through bias training as well. We called police chief Chet Epperson for a response but didn't hear back. We also called the Integrity Task Force to ask about the racial makeup of the group, but also didn't hear back.
Johnston says he does plan to meet with the Police Department and community and state leaders about these issues to hopefully bring more change and restore trust between the black community and Police Department.