Judge delays Rockford Police Chief hearing but lawyers lay out a - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Judge delays Rockford Police Chief hearing but lawyers lay out arguments

ROCKFORD (WREX) - A judge delays hearing a motion made by Rockford's Chief of Police. He wants a temporary restraining order against the police union.

Even though the judge wasn't ready to go, the lawyer's were, and they were already making their arguments.

It all comes down to who can discipline Rockford's Police Chief. The police union filed a complaint against Chief Chet Epperson. He's since answered back, filing to ask for a restraining order against the union and an injunction to stop their complaint.

Thomas McGuire "The chief of police is appointed by the mayor and according to even the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners act that if the chief were to be subject to discipline its only by the mayor, not by the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners," Thomas McGuire, Epperson's attorney.

But the police union's attorney say the chief was appointed by Rockford' Fire and Police commission and any discipline comes from them.

"We are talking about a violation of police department rules and regulations and this is the proper form in front of the police and fire commission. This is no different than if any other sworn officer was alleged to have committed any violation of the rule and regulation of the department," says Dan McGrail, Police Benevolent and Protection Association (PBPA).

The whole case goes back to a domestic dispute last October which Epperson got involved with. At the time the mayor's office says it looked into the matter and believed the chief acted correctly. The union disagreed and took their complaint to the commission.

"This is a citizen's complaint that's brought by the PBPA and this complaint has to be heard like any other citizen's complaint," says McGrail.

Both sides agree as far as they know there is no past precedent when it comes to discipline for a police chief in Rockford. Epperson's attorney says he's already filed an unfair labor practice against the union and is prepared if the injunction and restraining order gets turned down.

"This case can be appealed by either side to the appellate court or to the Illinois Supreme Court," says McGuire.

The judge will hear the motion for a temporary restraining order and injunction next week, July 3rd.

The lawyer for the Fire and Police Commission say they do not plan to take a side in this and will abide by the court's ruling.

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