After Two Years, Police Chief Calls it Quits

By: Nichole Vrsansky
By: Nichole Vrsansky

WITH SUCH A SHORT TERM AS CHIEF - TWO AND A HALF YEARS - MANY ARE WONDERING WHY CHIEF PUGH CHOSE TO RETIRE NOW AND WHETHER POLITICS AND A NEW MAYOR PLAYED A ROLE IN HIS DECISION.

AFTER 30 YEARS ON THE ROCKFORD POLICE DEPARTMENT AND TWO AND A HALF YEARS AS CHIEF - STEVE PUGH IS RETIRING. HE SAYS - SIMPLY - HE JUST KNEW IT WAS TIME.

"Thirty years is a lot of time anywhere. I've risen to the top and reached my goals, in fact, I've probably went beyond what my goals ever were," says Pugh.

BUT THREE MONTHS AGO, ANOTHER SET OF GOALS WERE THROWN INTO THE MIX, WHEN LARRY MORRISSEY WAS ELECTED AS ROCKFORD'S NEW MAYOR. HE HAS A NEW VISION FOR ROCKFORD AND THE POLICE DEPARTMENT. HE'S OUTSPOKEN ABOUT HIS BROKEN WINDOW POLICY.
BUT BOTH INSIST POLITICS WAS NOT AT PLAY HERE:

"My leaving has nothing to do with that - it's a personal decision," says Pugh.

"Chief Pugh's decision to retire was his decision. I didn't prompt him or ask him to retire," adds Morrissey.

THE BOARD OF FIRE AND POLICE COMMISSIONERS HAS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF SELECTING THE NEXT CHIEF OF POLICE. MAYOR MORRISSEY SAYS HE HAS NO PREFERENCE AS TO WHETHER THAT CANDIDATE COMES FROM WITHIN OR OUTSIDE THE DEPARTMENT.

"I don't want to handcuff them. I want them to be able to hire the best person best suited for the job."

A PERSON WHO WILL INHERIT SEVERAL CHALLENGES - A NEW POLICE CONTRACT TO NEGOTIATE AND A BUILDING THAT WILL SOON BE ALL THEIRS - WHEN THE COUNTY MOVES INTO THE NEW CRIMINAL JUSTICE CENTER. TO SOLVE THESE AS WELL AS UNFORSEEN PROBLEMS, CHIEF PUGH HAS THIS ADVICE - COMMUNICATE WELL AND ALWAYS BE FAIR.

THE PROCESS OF SELECTING ROCKFORD'S 11TH POLICE CHIEF IS EXPECTED TO TAKE SEVERAL MONTHS.

THE POLICE AND FIRE COMMISSION HAS HISTORICALLY SELECTED A PRIVATE FIRM TO HELP THEM RECRUIT THE NEXT CHIEF. ONCE CANDIDATES HAVE BEEN SELECTED - AN EXTENSIVE TESTING AND INTERVIEWING PROCESS WILL TAKE PLACE.

CHIEF PUGH'S LAST DAY IN OFFICE WILL BE NOVEMBER 1ST. HE AND HIS WIFE ARE PLANNING TO LEAVE ROCKFORD THEN AND MOVE TO SOUTHERN FLORIDA.


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