Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson stepping down - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson stepping down

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ROCKFORD (WREX) -

Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson announced his retirement from the police department in a press conference at City Hall.

His last day will be Friday, Nov. 13.

The chief says he is retiring to focus on a consultation position with the New Orleans Police Department Consent Decree.

"I've served under four chiefs of police, five mayors, three state's attorneys and four police union presidents," said Epperson.

Both Chief Epperson and Mayor Morrissey said during the press conference that many of the structures set in place by the chief will stay in place, such as the Compstat meetings and geopolicing policies.

"The issues that we're in the position to try to solve, we're in the best position we've ever been," said Morrissey.  "I will thank the chief for his leadership in getting us to that point.  Geographic policing is a huge, huge advantage for us, and it's something we're going to stick with."

Former Rockford Police Union President Terry Peterson called for the resignation of Epperson in his own resignation letter on Oct. 5. However, Mayor Morrissey was supportive of the chief, saying Epperson wouldn't listen to his critics.

Epperson made it clear he decided to retire now to focus on the part-time job he started this summer with the New Orleans Police Department and not because he was getting any outside pressure.

"I don't back down to any battle," said Epperson.  "The demands of the consent decree are a lot. I'm rushing home at lunch time to get on a conference call or at nighttime or working weekends and the demand is they just want more."

Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana acknowledged the news of Epperson stepping down.

"I wish him well in future endeavors and look forward to working with the next Chief," Caruana said.  

Epperson has been with the Rockford Police Department since 1985, when he started as a patrol officer. He continued through the ranks until he became Chief of Police in April of 2006, a few months after Morrissey was elected to office.

Mayor Morrissey says the police and fire commission will pick an interim chief and replacement chief, and that he and City Council will make recommendations for their pick in the coming days.

Aldermen had mixed reaction to the chief's retirement.  Some were disappointed to see him go, others, not so much.

"I'm very hopeful moving forward that we'll be really bringing folks together," said Ald. Tom McNamara, D-3rd Ward,  "We've had too much division of recent years between the police union and the chiefs, the police union and administration. We've got to move beyond that."

Alderman Ann Thompson-Kelly, D-7th Ward, said, "He has brought our police department to the 21st century as far as documentation, as far as transparency as far as moving in a technology age."

Alderman Joe Chiarelli, R-14th Ward, said, "I think it's good for the department at this time and we take this opportunity to reevaluate what's happening."

The Rockford Police Department employs about 290 officers to patrol and enforce law for the city of about 150,250 people.

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