Rockford's 12th Ward turns out for police meeting - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Rockford's 12th Ward turns out for police meeting

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A forum meant to inform a Rockford ward about how the city handles officer involved shootings, turns into a question and answer session on what's wrong with the city.

What this group lacks in numbers, they make up for in curiosity.  By no means did the whole 12th Ward show up, but those who did left police Chief Chet Epperson with some things to think about.

"Crime issues and especially the fact that they've had some unfortunate fatalities recently with interactions with some of our citizens and the police department," said 12th Ward Alderman John Beck.

"We use deadly force in some of those situations to eliminate a threat target," explained Epperson.

12th Ward residents don't like it when the police have to use deadly force against a subject, but they understand that's a part of police work.

What they don't understand is why Rockford is so well-known for crime.  One man wonders if answer is education or poverty levels.

"Is that, is that the source, is that the crime source?," asked one resident.

That's when police Chief Chet Epperson started answering questions, with questions.  And that's when at least one 12th Ward resident expressed a lack of confidence in law enforcement.

"Why are there 900 people on parole in Rockford?  Why is there so many people that come back here?  Why would I look outside my door, I haven't recently, but the last couple years and see a white van that drops off four or five people?," asked Epperson.

"I don't know if Rockford has the coordinated effort to answer these questions and begin attacking some solutions," said a resident.

"When we're out either walking or jogging, very seldom do we see the authorities to be there."

"Unfortunately we're understaffed right now and it's necessarily just a budget issue but it's a matter of finding people to fill empty positions right now," said Ald. Beck.

The topic of police officer numbers also came up.  The department has 23 spots to fill to reach its budgeted amount of 285.

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