This morning, Champaign County Law Enforcement Officials and Concerned Community Members held a news conference to address three (3) recent deaths related to gun violence involving a youth and two young adults. At the news conference, Law Enforcement Officials and community representatives discussed the recent increase in gun violence compared to the same time last year, the senseless loss of young lives and the sense of urgency in educating families and the community about gun violence and keeping citizens and police officers safe.
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Statistics show that “Citizen Reports of Shots Fired” from January to May of 2011 and 2012 are as follows:
- City of Champaign: 47 in 2011; 76 in 2012
- City of Urbana: 17 in 2011; 49 in 2012
“Our condolences go out to family and friends who have lost a loved one the past week. We are all saddened and concerned about these three (3) tragedies. This is a “call to action” for the entire community. Concerned parents, friends and family members must have real conversations with their children about the dangers of firearms. Adults need to properly secure their firearms for the protection of all ,” said Police Chief Anthony Cobb. “Today we all stand together to address gun violence and we are asking community members to unite and work together to stop gun violence. In the past two months, officers have seen an increase in gun violence as well as youth imitating violence with fake guns. This is not acceptable and cannot be tolerated,” he added.
On Monday, members of the Champaign Community and Police Partnership (CCAPP) discussed the need to begin immediately addressing the first two incidents that occurred. An emphasis was placed on putting some short-term goals in place to gear up for the summer months. Cobb stated that members were shocked to hear about the most recent tragedy occurring yesterday.
CCAPP activities will include:
- Intervention Street Team
- Gun Safety Training
- Community-Wide Anti-Gun Violence Campaign (with youth involvement)
Urbana Police Chief Pat Connolly stated, “I am very disturbed about the recent increase in gun violence in our communities. These acts of violence cannot be tolerated. It is important that we stand together united, with a mutual desire to keep youth, citizens and law enforcement officers in our communities safe. When these tragic incidents occur so many people are affected for the rest of their lives. Today I stand for a community that is united with one goal in mind and that is that everyone can live, work, go to school and play in safe neighborhoods”, he added.
Local Law Enforcement Officials are committed to working with the community to address this issue. If community members want to get involved they should go to www.champaigncommunitycoalition.org and click on “Get Involved Today”. Community members who have questions or concerns about guns, should call local law enforcement agencies.
Treat all weapons as if they are real and loaded. Do not touch or handle the weapon, call 911 and your local law enforcement agency will come and safely secure the weapon.
Local law enforcement is also working in partnership with the faith community. Concerned persons are also welcome to contact the following pastors for more information:
Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church (Rev. Rickey Parks): 217/356-9633
New Hope Church of God in Christ (Rev. Charles Nash): 217/352-3546
Bethel A.M.E. (Rev. Larry Lewis): 217/356-0323
Jericho Missionary Baptist Church (Rev. Lekevie Johnson): 217/333-3881
Liberty Temple Church of God (Rev. Jerome Chambers): 217/351-3546
Morning Star Free Will Baptist Church (Rev. Jimmy Holmes): 217/367-5912