Winn. Co. Task Force expands to include outside departments - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Winn. Co. Task Force expands to include outside departments

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Boone County State's Attorney Michelle Courier Boone County State's Attorney Michelle Courier

The Winnebago County Integrity Task Force was created to handle the most serious investigations like fatalities where a police officer pulled the trigger. Two agencies outside the county should soon have the force at their disposal.

"The new name is going to be the Winnebago Boone County Integrity Task Force." -says Loves Park Police Chief Jim Puckett.

The Boone County Sheriff's Department and Belvidere Police Department have been asked to join the 14-agency force. Chief Puckett says this helps the counties help each other when it comes to factors like manpower. He believes there's strength in numbers.

"You've got a valuable and important resource that would benefit everybody."

According to Boone County State's Attorney Michelle Courier, the two police departments are looking for objectiveness in cases like officer-involved shootings. Boone County hasn't seen one since 1996.

"We do not want to have our own officers investigate their own cases it's better to have an outside agency do so and we also want to make sure that it's very comprehensive in nature." -says Courier.

Chief Puckett says once the agencies accept, learning begins. Each member needs to be a "lead homicide investigator" and go through 40 to 80 hours of training. He thinks it'll be a smooth transition adding Boone County detectives.

"They are probably going to be added to one of our three teams, there won't be a new team started."

Courier believes this move could be a gateway to future additions.

"Perhaps if Boone County joins and it's successful, the other counties perhaps in smaller areas that have a need for this would also join." -she says.

Both departments are set to accept the task force's invitation on Tuesday. Rockford city council members approved the deal earlier this week.

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