Leadership for police and community development expected soon

Rockford Police and Community Development departments are expected to have new leadership within two weeks.

Rockford City Administrator Jim Ryan said the City Police and Fire Commission is completing background checks on the current candidates vying to replace retired Rockford Police Chief Steve Pugh.

Deputy Chief Dominic Iasparro has served as interim police chief since November 2005.

Ryan said the background checks would, hopefully, be completed by April 3.

City Police and Fire Commission attorney Sam Castree confirmed the selection of a new police chief could be imminent. But he refused to comment specifically about the progress of the background checks.

“We’re continuing with the selection process and hope to have concluded as soon as possible. We’re going to continue moving as fast as we can,” Castree said.

The Winnebago County Crime and Public Safety Commission hasn’t taken a stance on the search. But the commission’s Crime Committee chairman, Ralph Hawthorne of Rockford, shared some personal observations about the selection process.

“It would have prevented a lot of embarrassment, if background checks had been done on the six finalists,” Hawthorne said.

But he stressed failure to complete the checks, which led to candidate David Purdy’s selection and subsequent withdrawal, shouldn’t reflect badly on the City Police and Fire commissioners.

“They’re very intelligent. They were a good choice by the mayor,” Hawthorne said.

Final candidates for the city’s Community Development director have been interviewed by City Council members, and an announcement is forthcoming.

From the April 5-11, 2006, issue

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