Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Former Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson doesn’t miss the phone calls and emails that piled up every day during his decade as his hometown’s top cop. But he already misses the constant crises that make up the life of a police chief.

Epperson retired at the age of 53 on November 13th. He’s devoting more time to his family and his new job as an expert on police use of force on the federal monitoring team for the New Orleans police department.

Epperson sat down with WNIJ’s Susan Stephens last week to talk about his 33 year police career. 

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The Rockford area has a long history of women’s baseball, from the Rockford Peaches in the '40s and '50s to today’s Starfires. Now it’s trying to capitalize on that history by wooing the International Women’s Baseball Center to build a museum there.

Artwork provided

The multi-purpose indoor athletic facility under construction in downtown Rockford got a financial boost and a new name Thursday, thanks to UW Health.

What originally was called the Downtown Sportscore now will be known as the UW Health Sports Factory.

The parent company of Rockford’s SwedishAmerican Health System will pay roughly $1.9 million over a 10-year period to have its name and logo emblazoned on the building and various associated materials.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

A murder suspect Rockford-area police and the FBI have been pursuing for four years is now being held in the Winnebago County Jail on one-million dollars bond. Luis Eduardo Anaya was arrested in Mexico in September. 

He has been the main suspect since 23-year-old Brandon Wright of Rockford was shot to death in his car in 2011. Wright’s parents, Rosemary and Donald, became anti-violence activists and have coordinated a peace concert and march in his memory. 

Rockford Police Chief Epperson To Retire

Oct 14, 2015
Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson is retiring and moving to a new job in law enforcement. The 53-year-old has been with the department for 30 years and chief of police since 2006.

Epperson made the announcement Wednesday afternoon at Rockford City Hall. Earlier in the day, he told his officers and other police department employees about his decision. Epperson became eligible for retirement earlier this year. 

His retirement is effective November 13th. He'll receive 75% of his pay and full benefits.

UPS Set To Hire 1,000 Employees In Rockford Area

Oct 5, 2015
Flickr User SalTheColourGeek / "Full-res silent-pic test." (CC BY 2.0)

UPS announced Monday it will be hiring more than 1,000 seasonal workers in the Rockford area.

The company is hiring at the Rockford Air Facility. 

According to a news release, the company will be offering a number of positions with the following starting wages:

  • Pre-loaders: $10.10/hour
  • Package handlers: $11.76/hour
  • Package delivery drivers: $19.58/hour
  • Tractor-trailer drivers: $27/hour

Although these positions are seasonal, UPS says it can be a way for workers to get their foot in the door. 

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Violent crime, heroin use, and police relations in Rockford --  those three problems were the focus of a year-long study by the Department of Justice. The city invited the analysis and received the initial results Tuesday.

Winnebago County 9/11 Emergency Responders Memorial /

Ceremonies will take place all over the country to honor those killed in the 9/11 attacks fourteen years ago. Winnebago County is holding a special dedication at its newest memorial.

Two steel beams salvaged from the World Trade Center will be placed in the Winnebago County 9/11 Emergency Responders Memorial. The park-like memorial is a work in progress and sits next to the County Justice Center in Rockford. It’s expected to be completed in time for next year’s 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

city of Rockford

Rockford's city council is close to a decision on $12.7 million worth of downtown construction projects.

The Finance Committee meets Tuesday to consider a $6.2 million bid to rebuild the city's Concourse parking deck and a $6.5 million federal loan application to support two proposed hotels. If approved, the parking deal could come up for a council vote.

The federal loans would be used to help finance more than 225 new hotel rooms, restaurants and other attractions. 

After previous delays, Alderman Tom McNamara says the council is “really close” to an agreement.

Police departments nation-wide are increasing their commitment to community policing in hopes of reducing crime. It’s a strategy that involves developing relationships between neighborhoods and individual officers. 

Brandon Dillard is one of nine officers in the community services unit. He says unlike other patrol officers, his job is aimed at getting long-term results.