Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb
Urbana Police Chief Pat Connolly
Community Coalition Facilitator, Tracy Parsons
Area Law Enforcement & Community Coalition Partners Address Community Gun Violence
While overall crime in Champaign-Urbana is down, gun violence across our community has increased at a disturbing rate. Area law enforcement and Community Coalition partners have worked diligently for months developing coordinated tactics and strategies to take action against those engaged in criminal activities; as well as develop positive initiatives that address community violence and support youth development.
Law enforcement officials from Champaign, Urbana, the University of Illinois, and the Sheriff’s Office are collaboratively sharing and analyzing criminal intelligence data, increasing patrols in community “hot spots”, and engaging in other tactical responses to quickly and appropriately deal with those behind the increase in gun violence. Police have responded with around the clock criminal investigations and apprehended several suspects charged with recent shootings and other violent crimes.
“Bringing our local law enforcement agencies together on this initiative against gun violence is critical,” shared Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb. “Our communities are interwoven in such a unique way, and gun crimes have been a part of that. Across jurisdictions and collaboratively, our agencies are strengthening our intelligence-led policing, increasing proactive patrol in neighborhoods, and dedicating staff hours to bring greater safety to our citizens and to apprehend anyone criminally associated with a gun crime.”
Understanding the urgency and threat of continued gun violence in our community, the Community Coalition has been attentively developing solutions to address the problem through a holistic, community-wide approach. The Coalition has explored and begun implementing immediate and long-term solutions to stop the violence and provide positive engagement opportunities for our community’s youth. The Coalition is also organizing emergency crisis and trauma management teams that can immediately step in and help youth and families impacted by violent events.
To solve and address the challenging issue of gun violence, the Community Coalition stresses that multiple approaches are necessary.
“We cannot arrest our way out of this, and local law enforcement can’t do it alone,” shares Community Coalition Facilitator, Tracy Parsons. “The Coalition serves as a convening mechanism to facilitate involvement and community engagement, and has helped to develop a number of initiatives to provide resources and programming opportunities for our youth this summer and beyond.”
Initiatives led by the Community Coalition have created new partnerships between a number of Champaign-Urbana organizations. Together, Coalition members have developed targeted opportunities such as:
- City of Urbana, Urbana School District #116, and Urbana Park District, expansion of job opportunities for Urbana Youth
- Champaign Unit #4, Champaign Park District, Champaign-Urbana Area Project, and City of Champaign Neighborhood Services Department, coordination of Neighborhood Block Parties to promote arts, community safety, and address school truancy in targeted areas
- Boys & Girls Club, Champaign Park District, Urbana Park District, and University of Illinois Campus Recreation, coordination of youth recreation activities
- Champaign Police Department, community and youth engagement for targeted areas affected by gun violence
- Partnership with Champaign Park District, Coalition partners, and Youth for Christ, expansion of Midnight Basketball
- Family Resilience Dinner, sponsored by Access Initiative, to promote mental and emotional health, support, and to provide information on area-resources
- Anti-Gun Violence Media Campaign by the Community Coalition
- “Walk as One” event by the Community Coalition, to provide door-to-door engagement, education, and outreach in areas affected by gun violence
Community leaders are confident that these, and other developing initiatives will help make a positive impact, yet they also highlight that combatting gun violence is a priority that requires our entire community to become actively involved.
“The issue of gun violence is not bound by neighborhood boundaries,” added, Tracy Parsons. “It is a human condition, and it will take our whole community to positively lend their voices and hands to influence the necessary change for an overall healthier community.”
The public is encouraged to join in and help the Community Coalition with its efforts. The Coalition meets publicly the second Wednesday of each month, with the upcoming meeting held May 13th from 3:30 – 5:00 pm at the Champaign Police Department, Dodsworth Room.
The mission of the Champaign Community Coalition is to identify strengths and needs of the community to leverage resources that benefit youth and families.
For more information, visit: ChampaignCommunityCoalition.org