"If it's not safe for our guys to go out there," said police union president Terry Peterson. "It's certainly not safe for the residents that live over there."
union president Terry Peterson worries if the
"Our staffing numbers are absolutely critical right now," said Peterson. "And if they create this geo-policing, it's going to further deplete that staffing."
That's why he says the police union proposed two staffing options to the city. One option is to set a minimum staffing number for the entire city, know as "Staff Premium Pay." This would require officers get paid a stipend if they ever have to work in an area that's understaffed.
second, "Hazardous Duty Pay," requires officers assigned to work west of the
"I think that the people who we hire to protect and serve have to protect and serve all of the people equally, without distinction," said 5th Ward Aldermen Venita Hervey.
And she considers the proposal itself to be a slap in the face.
"Somehow we are worth less," said Hervey. "So that people have to be paid more to take care of us."
A sentiment Rockford Mayor Larry Morriessy echoes.
"It's outrageous to suggest that we should be paying hazardous duty pay," said Morrissey. "Our citizens, like myself who live on the west side, I find it offensive."
But Peterson says the proposal isn't about any certain area, it's solely about making sure officers are safe.
"We fear their going to take people from the west side," said Peterson. "They're going to put them and saturate that area, and they're going to leave the west side with insufficient protection."
Morrissey says officer safety is a major concern of his, but adds that state collective bargaining rules require a minimum staffing number for fire departments and not police, taking staffing power away from the city.
"That needs to be fixed, it's an outrage that it exists and it really prevents us from putting our resources where they're most needed," said Morrissey.
Police Chief Chet Epperson says the department has no plans to shift officers from one area to another and adds he supports the geo-policing plan.