ANNE EICKSTADT PHOTO Belvidere Republican
Belvidere Police Chief Woody addresses the City Council about the public attacks on the BPD.

By Anne Eickstadt


The City Council chamber meeting was packed on Monday, March 2, leaving standing room only out in the hallway. Many members of the community came out to support the Belvidere Police Dept. A few of them did not. They all had their opportunity to speak during the Public Comments portion of the meeting and were encouraged to let their opinions be known

Channel 13’s Kristin Crowley crouched behind her cameraman and took copious notes when people spoke against the police. Not so many notes when people spoke in support of the police.

Police Chief Shane Woody had requested to address the issues claiming excessive use of force which were exacerbated by the Channel 13 broadcasts. His eloquent speech was followed by Attorney Mike Drella explaining what to expect of the Comments portion of the evening. The Channel 13 cameraman placed a microphone on the speakers podium to catch the comments for broadcast while Attorney Drella was speaking.

The Comments began with a couple of people speaking on other issues, for example, former alderman Andy Racz wanted to sell tickets for the April 7 ‘Spring is in the Air’ event. Then began the topic of the meeting.

Mr. Antonio Sanchez stated that since there seemed to be an issue, changes needed to be made and, basically, why can’t we all get along? Mr. Paul Ainley, who attacked a police officer in the pursuit of his duty, spoke about how unfair and violent the police were. (His case is still in court.)

Mr. Ryan Curry took his turn at the podium. “Recently our Police Department and city have been under attack due to a partial, lackluster story reported by Kristin Crowley and WREX,” he said. “They used snippets of video on their news, yet posted the full videos on their website that much fewer people look at. At a time when police are being ambushed and murdered in record numbers, a news agency abused its power by curtailing stories without any evidence other than the word of criminals that were arrested and accusing these officers.

“Among those interviewed in their story, was a man who was charged with beating another with a claw hammer, a man that has Sexual Assault to a Child charges, and another found guilty of Homicide/Manslaughter. These are the voices WREX used over the integrity of two K-9 officers that, as a team in 2018 alone, were involved in: 39 building searches; 221 drug arrests; five search warrants; 286 vehicle searches; seven school searches; 15 K-9 tracks; and 363 other K-9 contacts.

“What WREX also failed to educate the public on in their riveting story, was that the State of Illinois combined Obstruction and Resisting under one statute. They don’t tell people that for two reasons: 1.) They didn’t know. Or 2.) They know and it doesn’t fit their anti-cop, pro-criminal agenda.

“If we as a people don’t come together and hold news agencies like WREX accountable for their actions, then they’ll continue to hurt good people and destroy innocent families through biased reporting. If you think it ends in Belvidere, it doesn’t. This agency is already working on doing the same thing with another local police department.

“This empowers criminals, making our police officers’ jobs just t hat much tougher. You’ll hear every criminal that speaks say how much they support police officers in general and that it’s just a few bad apples. This is only to make the common person feel that these people are relevant. Yet, in the same breath they will tell us how the mere action of being asked to comply is unconstitutional. So, which is it? You like police officers that force you to obey laws you don’t agree with or you just do not have respect for authority in general?

“Belvidere Police and Boone County Deputies are stern but fair. If you are not breaking the law, then you have no reason to not comply. I’m blessed to have been born and raised in this city and, when younger, had my fair share of encounters with local police and I showed respect and took responsibility for my actions. It is called being a responsible member of society.

“I’m thankful for these officers and deputies. Because of them, we get to raise a family in a safe city.

“Thank you for your time.”

The next man at the podium was attempting to advocate the line of body cameras that he represented.

Anna Rogers completed the Public Comments with thanking the police force for reducing gang activity tremendously and for keeping the city safe.

Mayor Chamberlain then called upon the alderman who placed this topic on the city council’s agenda.

Marsha Freeman came to the podium speaking about how she had been completely blindsided by the WREX broadcast and had been totally unaware of lawsuits and settlements. She stated, “Physical violence against an offender is rarely, if ever, okay.” Even one lawsuit is too many, in her opinion.

Having stated her outrage that police would use force to protect themselves and bring offenders to jail, she also made it her personal mission that ‘no matter what the cost, no matter what needs to be cut’ that BPD officers needed to wear body cameras at all times.

The city council session continued its normal course and, when it ended, the Channel 13 camera was trained on Chief Woody and the citizens who approached him to offer support and/or have private conversation.



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