New Police Officer Charges

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson accused officers Jason Bailey and Kevin Nordberg last month of posting disparaging comments about the police department on the Register Star's website while on duty. In a hearing Monday night, further charges came out accusing Bailey of using department computers to access pornographic or sexual material.
"The city's had at least 45 days to prepare this case. They've had their computer people on it, they've had their investigator full time for 45 days. Now they're going to dump their findings onto us. We have to see if it's legitimate," says the police officers' attorney Tim O'Neil.
A status hearing is set for October 1st. The acts could cause the officers to resign. Behind the controversy is a sense of discontent from many Rockford police toward their administration. The police union revoked Epperson and Deputy Chief Michael Booker's union membership Friday. They were both partial members due to their high rank and will now be banned from social activities. Also Monday night, union members discussed taking a no confidence vote in Chief Epperson. They plan to do that Friday and will explain their reasoning in depth afterwards.
"It's an issue of fairness, an issue that involves our memberships' welfare and safety and so we're just going to look to protect our rights," says Rockford Police Union President Aurelio DeLaRosa.
"That's not going to sidetrack what we're going to do. Our mission is to reduce crime, increase the solve rate and restore quality of life in rockford and we are seeing that," says Epperson.
The chief received a strong show of support at city council Monday night, from the mayor, aldermen and community members, who say they feel safer in Rockford with Epperson in charge.
The department's four remaining deputy chiefs also showed their support Monday by resigning from the police union. The union president says he regrets their choice but it doesn't change the union's plans. Epperson believes the problems stem from some officers not accepting changes in the department, as he strives for a more proactive crime- fighting approach.
Chief Epperson has also cut back on overtime and sick days in his year-plus on the job. Adding more pressure, police are now in their second year of working without a new contract. Union leaders say that is not behind the no-confidence vote.


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  • by Karl Location: Rockford on Sep 18, 2007 at 01:31 PM
    All I want to say is that any real manager would have called those two into the office, yelled at them and told them if they did it again they would at risk of losing their jobs. Not Chet. He wants to make a major issue out of nothing. CEO's everywhere are laughing at him. Very pathetic Chet.
  • by Carla Location: Rockford on Sep 17, 2007 at 01:04 PM
    What a sad state of affairs this city has become. I have followed all the recent media surrounding this current administration and I'm deeply concerned. I have seen several posts regarding criminal activity that was initiated by the Chief and then covered up when the two officers, a detective and a sergeant, got caught. So, the chief and his buddies can commit crimes and that's okay but these other officers who only exercised their rights to free speech could lose their jobs? Something is wrong here! It sounds to me like Epperson is deflecting. Should'nt the focus be on his criminal misconduct? What else has the chief done wrong that is making him go after so many decent officers? And why isn't the media looking into this? These poor men have had their names plastered all over the media but we have heard nothing of real crimes within the PD? Where is the investigative journalism? I have heard that Epperson's wife has money, is she paying for the media's silence?
  • by Stacy Location: NE Rockford on Sep 17, 2007 at 12:37 PM
    You should be ashamed of yourself, Chet! You go after two excellent officers for posting a few comments on RRSTAR and yet you encourage two other officers to commit felonies for you! Bailey and Nordberg have wonderful, loving families. Did it ever occur to you what this might to do them? Of course it did! Isn't that why you told your little cronies that you "wanted to destroy their entire families"! What kind of monster are you? These officers have excellent reputations within the law enforcement community. They have exemplary records, extensive training and knowledge and are fine examples of what a good cop really is. Is this a jealousy issue, Chet? Now you want to go after an additional 70 officers for looking at ESPN? I know you don't know much about the law but looking at ESPN is not official misconduct! Quit pestering the SA with your petty complaints. Can't you handle internal matters on your own? Clearly this job is far too much for you to handle!
  • by JOANN Location: ROCKFORD on Sep 17, 2007 at 11:56 AM
    CHET,THE NUMBERS SAY IT ALL. BOW OUT NOW WITH GRACE.IT DOES NOT MATTER HOW MUCH YOU WORK WITH THE UNION.THESE GUYS HAVE NO RESPECT FOR YOU OR YOUR TYPE OF LEADERSHIP.I THINK THE MAYOR NEEDS TO LOOK AT THESE NUMBERS ALSO. THEY DO SEND A MESSAGE.CLEAN IT UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • by Frank Location: Rockford on Sep 14, 2007 at 08:30 PM
    No confidence In Chet: 276. Confidence in Chet: 6. The numbers say it all. You can't lead men and women who have no respect for you.
  • by cynthia Location: Loves Park on Sep 14, 2007 at 06:26 PM
    What is happening within the Rockford Police Department is a travesty. Chet Epperson smacks of Senator Joseph R. McCarthy at his worst. The people of the city of Rockford need to know the truth about the egocentric, maniacal, ill-equipped tyrant who is leading their police force. Much like the "Great and Powerful Oz"... Epperson is all smoke and mirrors.
  • by Bella Location: Rockford on Sep 14, 2007 at 08:21 AM
    I hope Mr. Epperson's vanity leads him to read these comments being posted. Please face the fact that you were not meant to hold the position of Police Chief. You are there by default. If not for your buddies digging dirt on the other candidates to have them eliminated,you wouldn't be there. I'm sure your staff feels bad knowing that you were teased & picked on as a child (not), but don't take your power trip out on them. Oh, and that multi-million dollar report writing system that YOU insisted upon-Hmmm....isn't it a coincidnece that since you've become chief,(flaunting your new computer system) that crime in Rockford has suddenly decreased? WOW!Come on now do the math: 2 2=3 is = to Epperson new system=FRAUD. I doubt that it is resistance to change causing discord there-it is your true lack of leadership skills and your insistence to stomp all over the people beneath you. I am sure more would speak out-but they want to keep their job. How many have you threatened? Bow out gracefully.
  • by JOANN Location: ROCKFORD on Sep 13, 2007 at 01:52 PM
    CHET, HOW CAN YOU CALL YOURSELF A PROFESSIONAL?YOU ARE TRYING TO DESTROY THE LIVES OF TWO GOOD COPS.MEN WHO ARE DEDICATED AND LOVE WHAT THEY DO. YOU SHOULD BE PROUD TO HAVE POLICE OFFICERS LIKE THIS. HAVE YOU EVER MADE A MISTAKE OR DONE SOMETHING YOU REGRET? OH, I FORGOT YOU ARE PERFECT. I BET YOU HAVE NOTHING UNOFFICIAL ON YOUR COMPUTER. JUST WHAT DO HAVE YOU DONE CHET? DO YOU KNOW WHAT A REAL COP DOES?OF COURSE NOT. YOU HAVE NEVER BEEN A REAL COP. YOU SIT BEHIND A DESK AND DICTATE. GET OUT THERE AND GET A GUN POINTED IN YOUR FACE OR GET CALLED EVERY NAME IN THE BOOK WHILE YOU ARE TRYING TO HELP SOMEONE.I HOPE YOUR NEXT STEP IS RETIREMENT BECAUSE YOU WOULD NOT MAKE A PIMPLE ON A REAL COPS BUTT.
  • by Carl Location: Rockford on Sep 13, 2007 at 11:48 AM
    Anyone see the survey done on WIFR last night? That says it all. Chet, the officers are not the problem, YOU ARE. In all my years I thought I would never see a chief of police so determined to head hunt for "internet usage" and slander decent hard working officers just because someone said a few negative things about him. This isn't high school and you're playing with people's lives and families. Chet also "insisted" his deputy chiefs and lieutenants withdraw from the union to save embarrassment for he and his sidekick deputy chief.
  • by Mike Location: Rockford on Sep 13, 2007 at 07:53 AM
    RESISTANCE TO LEADERSHIP STYLE OR CHANGE? Are our police officers resisting change or are they resisting an arrogant "my way or the highway" style of management? Is our police chief demanding blind obedience from his officers with no room for constructive feedback from them? Our police department needs a leader who will inspire rather than intimidate his police officers.
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