Rockford Mayor Responds to Protests About City Police Chief

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Rockford leaders had a lot on their plates during Monday’s city council meeting. That included more public outrage over the recent officer involved shootings.

Mayor Larry Morrissey spoke publicly for the first time tonight about the shootings that killed Logan Bell and Demetrius Bennett. Morrissey wasn’t at the meeting where protestors demanded police Chief Chet Epperson resign. The mayor wanted to make sure the community knows he has faith in Chief Epperson but recognizes faith isn't blind.

"There are certain parts of our community that feel a lot more than others and my sympathies go out to everyone who is fearful in their homes at night,” said Morrissey. “The last thing I want is people to feel afraid to call our police department.”

The mayor 's office did send out a news release last week addressing this issue Morrissey said Monday he wanted to clarify a few things including his willingness to work with any resident to move the city in a positive direction.

In other council business, aldermen took a step to improve the relationship between the city and local landlords. A new ordinance is on the table to help those landlords crack down on problem tenants. The proposal creates a housing board to review nuisance cases at properties to figure out exactly who should be held accountable. It's a complicated ordinance so aldermen are taking two weeks to look it over before taking a vote.

“If you bring the tenant into a process to mediate a problem; for a landlord the best result is to resolve a problem so you don’t have to evict a tenant and if you get to a place where in general the standard of behavior improves over time, it starts to improve the quality of life in neighborhoods in Rockford," says Paul Arena, President of the Rockford Apartment Association.

Also, a deal between the city and the Rockford Park District concerning the downtown Ingersoll building was approved Monday. The plan is to convert the building into a $16 million indoor sports complex. The hope is for renovations to begin in the summer of 2013.