Rockford officers move up blue ladder

Epperson names city’s first female deputy chief

Some Rockford police officers moved up the chain of command. Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson promoted Sgt. Lori Sweeney to deputy chief of police, Administrative Services Bureau, and Investigator John Hoshaw to sergeant during a May 8 press conference, though the promotions don’t take effect until May 12.

Sweeney’s promotion is historic. She becomes the city’s first female deputy chief of police. Epperson stressed her gender didn’t influence his decision.

“(Sweeney’s) strengths (are) why I selected her,” Epperson said.

Those strengths include recruiting, hiring and mentoring experience, he said. Sweeney’s new position combines duties Epperson and former Deputy Chief of Police Phil Jones once performed.

Those duties will include overseeing the department’s annual budget, fiscal services and payroll sections, accreditation division, training and personnel section as well as research, development and computer support sections.

Epperson said Sweeney’s appointment accomplishes a goal.

“It’ll be a reflection of the population,” he said, referring to the department’s makeup.

“I’m really honored to be given this opportunity,” Sweeney said, pointing out her appointment sets a standard for future female police officers. Sweeney said she’ll focus on making Epperson’s goals a reality. “He has a lot of plans for the department. I’m happy to support him in any way I can,” Sweeny said.

Sweeney, a 12-year veteran of the department, became a Metro Narcotics Unit investigator in 1999. She served in that unit until becoming the department’s recruiter in 2003. Sweeney became Training and Personnel Bureau Training unit’s leader in 2005.

The Milton, Wis., native graduated from Milton High School in 1982. She earned a police science associate’s degree from Blackhawk Technical College in 1992. Sweeney earned a bachelor’s degree in human resource management from Judson College in 2005. She graduated from Northwestern University Center for Public Safety School of Police Staff and Command May 5.

Traffic Division Investigator John Hoshaw, a 25-year veteran, will assume Sweeney’s former position. But Epperson said Hoshaw won’t be given his new assignment for at least 10 days. According to Epperson, the position must be posted within the department first.

Hoshaw, an East High School graduate, joined the department in January 1981 after earning a police science associate’s degree from Rock Valley College and a bachelors’ degree in criminal justice from Western Illinois University.

Hoshaw has served in Rockford Police Department Patrol, Traffic, Investigation, Training and SWAT divisions. Epperson joked, during the press conference, that Hoshaw has earned some notoriety.

“(He’s) most widely known for his fondness for firearms,” he said.

Hoshaw is a department firearms instructor. He also serves as a trainer. Hoshaw said he acts as a “drill sergeant and mentor.”

Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey said he stood behind Epperson’s choices.

“I’m very supportive of the chief and his personnel changes,” Morrissey said.

Referring to Sweeney, he said it was a great opportunity to fit a “wonderful” officer into the position of deputy chief.

From the May 10-16, 2006, issue

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