BELVIDERE (WREX) — For the second week in a row, it was standing room only at Belvidere City Hall. But this week, the public got their chance to share their concerns with aldermen.
"It takes something like this to happen for everybody to be on the same page and really raise the awareness that something needs to be done," said Antonion Sanchez, who said he had concerns about issues within the Belvidere Police Department.
"Our officers are on attack these days. They need to watch over their shoulders and every single movement can be a movement of aggresion," said another resident, Anna Rogers, who defended the department.
The discussion comes on the heels of a 13 Investigates special report about allegations of misconduct and excessive force within the department. The investigation showed dashcam video of an arrest in which a man was taken to the ground after he was pulled over for a burnt out license plate light. It also revealed two officers on the force have a higher "resisting arrest rate" than the entire department.
Chief of Police Shane Woody defended his officers and department Monday, though he say there is room for improvement.
"Resisting arrest statistics are not typically a statistic the police department tracks because there isn't anything against department policy or state law to have more types of arrests than any other officer. but now that I'm aware of these statistics, it's something we'll monitor going forward," he said.
Woody said he does not agree with the 13 Investigates report, and that his officers strive to be professional.
"These allegations are not representative of the police department I know and am chief of," Woody said.
Aldmeran Marsha Freeman, who wanted the discussion added to Monday's agenda, was the only alderman who spoke on the record Monday.
"As alarmed as I was by the newscast, I am in some form grateful that this has come to light. If there is a problem, and by all outward appearances there is, it needs to be addressed by the leaders within our community. It is my recommendation that we commission an unbiased, outside entity to continue the investigation and get to the bottom of the allegations," she said.
Freeman went on to say she at least wants city council to look into body cameras for officers.