ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- It was a unanimous vote. An ordinance to hire only Rockford residents to the city's police and fire departments was turned down tonight, meaning anyone, and anywhere can still apply for open positions.
Rockford's codes and regulations committee debated for more than an hour on the issue during tonight's meeting. If the ordinance was approved, six months of Rockford residency would have been a requirement for applicants.
Committee members expressed concern over the new rule, that once hired, employees could then move out of the city. Alderman Venita Hervey, who proposed the ordinance, says that with the current system, Rockford residents are already at a disadvantage.
"I defy anyone to show me or tell me why we cannot find 12 qualified firefighter candidates among the residents of Rockford. I really question the premise that people from Cherry Valley and Byron are qualified to be Rockford firefighters and protect Rockford citizens”, says Hervey.
Discussions about starting a cadet program for teenagers interested in becoming a part of the police and fire departments started up at the meeting as well. If that came to fruition, it sounds like it would be exclusive to Rockford residents.