Chief of Police Anthony Cobb Issues Statement Regarding Vandalism of Champaign Police Department

Upon returning from vacation Monday, I was immediately updated about the divisive and troubling acts of vandalism that occurred at the Champaign Police Department on August 13. There is no place for this type of behavior in our community. The event sponsored by the Champaign County Anti-Racist Coalition resulted in the defacing of public property that included racial slurs and threats made to City employees. This behavior does not reflect our city’s values as an inclusive community. There is a line between free expression and criminal intent, and it was crossed Thursday evening. This will not be allowed to happen again, and we remain committed to providing the highest levels of public safety services the community expects from us.

The vandalism to the police department disrespected the women and men who stand by to keep this community safe 24 hours a day. I am proud of these officers, and our community needs and relies upon their work now more than ever. This is a challenging time to be in law enforcement and we are grateful for the professionalism of our officers and the support of their families during these unprecedented times. If we want our city to be safe and welcoming, our police department needs the community’s partnership and assistance.

What occurred Thursday evening was nothing more than an act of division by a small group of individuals. We must be careful not to confuse this type of conduct with the necessary advocacy and activism to confront systemic racism locally. As a Black man who grew up in Champaign-Urbana and devoted his entire career to law enforcement, I am used to having my leadership challenged. The racial slur that was directed at me is one more reminder that racism remains very real and continues to impact the lives of Black people and other people of color in this community. As a leader, I will continue to push for meaningful changes.

I promise our department will keep engaging and collaborating with our community to build upon and strengthen police-community relationships through mutual respect. This is a time for action, and I am confident we can create a path forward we are all proud of.