Local leaders stress importance of creating Citizens Oversight Board

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) –A local represenative wants to change the way police investigate themselves. Some alderman say they’ve been wanting this change for years.

67th District State representative Maurice West called on the City of Rockford to help hold police accountable by establishing a Citizens Oversight Board.

“This board will help to bring forth transparency, accountability, equality within our police departments. That’s how we start to rebuild our, in some cases and a lot of cases build up trust,” Rep. West said.

For example, when a complaint is filed against an officer, the board would review it.

“It would make up residents of the city, police officers, members of the city council,
members of the administrative staff in order to come out with a fair judgement, a fair discussion on how the oversight is going to look,” said Rockford’s 7th Ward Alderwoman Ann Thompson-Kelly.

“They will make sure that every complaint is heard and community members will know that it’s not just law enforcement hearing their complaint,” Rep. West explained. “It’s not just the police, policing themselves, and by no means am I saying that every complaint that the law enforcement come to a conclusion of is wrong, but it’s about accountability, it’s about empowering everyone.”

Alderwomen Venita Hervey and Ann Thompson-Kelly have been discussing the need for this type of board for years.

“In police service, we have that blue wall of silence. We’ve accepted that for decades that police officers don’t have a duty to report wrongdoing. Whereas in the military you are bound, you are sworn, to report wrongdoing on the part of a fellow member,” said 5th Ward Alderman Venita Hervey.

“I don’t feel that we have a choice in it not happening.” Alderwoman Thompson-Kelly added.

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August 4, 2020 at 07:08AM

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