Community voices concerns to finalists for Rockford Police Chief in virtual forum

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 8:54 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - From violent crime to social injustice, community members ask questions to the remaining candidates to become Rockford’s top cop.

“We have the opportunity to create change in this community,” Rockford NAACP member Bob Babcock said.

“The question is how will you make Rockford a safer place?” The moderator of the virtual discussion said.

A series of questions from the community to all four candidates to replace former Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea.

“The police are the people and the people are the police,” Rockford Police Chief finalist Kurt Whisenand said.

“I know this community like the back of my hand,” Rockford Police Chief finalist Carla Redd-Miller

“We have to get away from that warrior mentality,” Rockford Police Chief finalist Jonathan Lewin said.

“We just can’t arrest our way out of mental health concerns,” Rockford Police Chief finalist Larry Lapp said.

Rockford Police Deputy Chief Kurt Whisenand, Rockford Assistant Deputy Chief Carla Redd-Miller, former Chicago Police Lieutenant Jonathan Lewin, and Schaumburg Police Commander Larry Lapp all made virtual appearances. The first question was, how will you address violent crime?

“I think we need to drill down to the core causes of our violent crime rates I think we are on the right track with that,” Whisenand said.

“We just have to work together to make sure we apprehend those individuals responsible for those activities,” Redd-Miller said.

“I would first look at what the problems are, do a careful assessment, and then I would look at national best practices,” Lewin said.

“The main thing is to get as much information as possible,” Lapp said. “To me, there is no magic pill to cure violent crime I really wish there was.”

Some in the region gather to watch the forum together. The hope of the Rockford NAACP is to advocate for a candidate that will bring change to the forest city.

“Strong leadership skills in order to curb some of this violence,” Rockford NAACP President Rhonda Greer Robinson said. “They need to be able to communicate with our citizens and our leaders.”

“It can change the whole tenor of a police department,” Babcock said.

All four candidates were given 15 minutes in total to answer questions. The finalists will have a live meet and greet on August 9 to answer more concerns in person. The Rockford Fire Department will host a similar forum for the finalists for fire chief. It will take place virtually on August 4.

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