Rockford Police

Susan Stephens

‘Tis the season for candidates to circulate their nominating petitions, but another petition is making the rounds in Rockford. It's a request for the city to rename the Morgan Street Bridge to honor Rockford police officers who have died in the line of duty.

David Hale, one of the people behind the petition, was moved to action by the recent death of a Rockford officer.

Rockford Police Department

A new Illinois law requires police officers to receive training to recognize signs of post-traumatic stress they may experience on duty.

The law is named after Greg Lindmark, a Rockford officer who took his own life after a 26-year career on the force, including a stint as deputy chief leading the detective bureau. The measure was sponsored by state Rep. John Cabello, who worked on the force with Lindmark. He hopes the training can prevent additional officer suicides.

Rockford PD

The Rockford Police Department is rolling out a new, five-week women's self-defense class, and it’s already reached capacity weeks before it’s scheduled to start.

The class aims to boost situational awareness. Deputy Rockford Police Chief Mike Dalke said it's half the battle in self-protection. 

Rockford Police doled out 459 arrests for drunk driving last year, according to a recent study.

Decatur came in second with slightly more than 400 arrests. Chicago is not factored into the evaluation due to its size. 

Meanwhile, Illinois State Police saw a significant drop in intoxicated driving arrests. 

Rockford Police Chief Dan O'Shea said his department stepped up its efforts after 16 traffic fatalities in 2015. 

"There's crashes, crime or complaints, if you will," he said. "Those three things drive how we push our traffic enforcement."

Rockford Housing Authority leaders have a plan they hope will make the city’s public housing a better place for to live.

Officers from the Rockford Police Department patrol the city’s public schools. Now the Rockford Housing Authority wants a similar arrangement for its housing developments.

Like the school district, the housing authority would pay for the program: it would cost around $900,000 a year to hire and equip the seven member police unit.

Rockford Police Department

Rockford police suspect four people found dead after a weekend house fire were victims of a homicide.  

A house on 2815 Garfield Drive caught fire Saturday, and the bodies of 27-year-old Keandra Austin and her three children ( 6-year-old Keeryn Austin, 9-year-old Deangalo Totty, and 6-month-old Aliya Beasley-Austin) were found in the wreckage.

Autopsies conducted by the Winnebago County Coroner's Office were inconclusive on the cause of death.  

An overnight vigil honoring local law enforcement and the slain Dallas police officers will be held in a downtown Rockford church beginning at 9 p.m. Thursday.

The names of all City of Rockford law enforcement officers will be read hourly to honor them for their service.

The public is invited to attend and stand watch for as long as they would like during the event in the historic Court Street Methodist Church.

The Rockford Police and Fire Department Chaplains Division is hosting the event, which will run through noon Friday.

Rockford Police Department

One of three men in the running to become Rockford’s next police chief has dropped out.

Racine, Wisconsin Chief Art Howell was given a contract extension to keep him in his current position.

The two remaining candidates are Rockford Assistant deputy chief Doug Pann and Dan O’Shea of the Elgin Police Department. They met with the public Tuesday at a forum in Rockford.

Finalists in the search for a new Rockford Police Chief will be announced early next week, according to the Rockford Board of Fire and Police Commissioners.

The new chief will fill the position left vacant by Chet Epperson, who retired last November.

With the help of search firm IOS Solutions, the board is winnowing the 26 qualified applicants. The board is scheduled to review applications and select three or four finalists at its meeting next Monday. 

Susan Stephens / WNIJ archives

An all-white jury heard opening statements Tuesday at the civil trial for a 2009 officer-involved shooting at a Rockford daycare center. Mark Anthony Barmore, an unarmed black man, was killed during a confrontation with police who chased him into the House of Grace day care. 

Ten children and a worker present at the shooting, in addition to the family which owns the church and daycare center, are suing for compensation for emotional trauma, psychological damage and financial losses.

Rockford Police Complete Change To A New Look

Jan 16, 2016
Rockford Police Department

The Rockford Police Department will completes its transition to single-color uniforms this weekend, part of a national trend of police departments to standard navy blue uniforms.

All sworn officers -- from patrolman to chief -- will be outfitted the same regardless of rank. Command staff is indicated by bars or stars on the collar, and insignia on the left cuff which represents years of service for each officer. Each hash mark signifies five years of service.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Former Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson doesn’t miss the phone calls and emails that piled up every day during his decade as his hometown’s top cop. But he already misses the constant crises that make up the life of a police chief.

Epperson retired at the age of 53 on November 13th. He’s devoting more time to his family and his new job as an expert on police use of force on the federal monitoring team for the New Orleans police department.

Epperson sat down with WNIJ’s Susan Stephens last week to talk about his 33 year police career. 

Activists in the Black Lives Matter movement recently published a 10-point plan to reduce police violence. Rockford leaders are responding to the proposal.

It’s called "Campaign Zero." National activists want stronger guidelines limiting the use of force. They also want to ban police quotas for tickets and arrests, and end the sale of military weapons to police forces.

Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey:

Context - Safe Neighborhoods, Safe City: Changing Roles of Police and Community
Maria Boynton

There’s been a lot of news about strained relationships between police officers and the citizens they serve.   Police officials say they’re making changes to improve relations and build trust within the community but critics claim not enough is being done.

WNIJ's public forum, “Context - Safe Neighborhoods, Safe City: Changing Roles of Police and Community,” was held Thursday, August 27, 2015, at the Kresge Hall in the Riverfront Museum Park, in Rockford.

WNIJ Reporter Sue Stephens moderated the Context panel. Guests were:

Rockford Police Department

Rockford Police are looking for ways to connect with their residents.

They’re hosting many block parties this summer, coordinated by the Police Department and United Way.

Lt. Carla Redd is the Supervisor of the Investigative Services of Rockford Police Department. She says this is an idea that has resurfaced.

A retired deputy chief was the star witness for the Rockford Police Union Thursday at a conduct hearing for Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson.

A retired deputy chief was the star witness for the Rockford Police Union Thursday at a conduct hearing for Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson.

Rockford’s police chief goes before the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners today. It’s the continuation of Monday’s meeting. That’s where Chet Epperson spent nearly seven hours defending himself against misconduct charges filed by the police union.

Rockford Police Department

In Rockford, a legal fight is brewing between the police chief and union leaders. A legal expert says the case could have implications on how management disputes in other departments are handled.

Rockford Police Department

UPDATE: Police say the situation was brought under control at 11:20 this morning.  The man has now been identified as Lilrobert Adams, who was picked up earlier on a domestic battery warrant. He did NOT have a gun, but had managed to move his cuffed hands from behind his back to in front of himself while in the back of the police van known as a "squadrol." 

Shortly after 6 a.m. Friday morning, Rockford police arrested the 20-year-old man. During transport to the city's criminal justice center, Adams told officers he had a handgun and meant to do the officers harm.

Doug Pann, Linkedin

Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson has named the first Commander of the new Geographic Police Pilot District. Lieutenant Douglas Pann will act as the Commander of the first of three geographic policing districts.  He will  command District II.