Around 950 people sign a petition to reappoint police leaders

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Urbana, Ill. (WCIA) —

“Its going to do irreversible harm to the city,” Dean Hazen, Urbana resident, said.

He’s worried that not reappointing police may cause damage. City council is getting ready to vote on several of their positions. There’s some debate in Urbana over the reappointment of several police leaders. Tonight, one man presented a petition in support of them, but not everyone’s on board.

There were mixed opinions at the Urbana City Council meeting on what council should do. Some people want to see the police not reappointed and defunded. Some say the police need more support from council.

Former police officer Dean Hazen has a strong opinion of the city council he used to sit on.

“They’ve already done a great deal of harm. They’ve crushed the morale of the city of Urbana Police Department,” Hazen said.

That’s why he’s pushing for Urbana City Council to reappoint several leaders in the police department to their current position, including the Chief of Police, Bryant Seraphin. That plan is causing some controversy. Some people told council they think there are issues within the department and how they treat the public.

“We also voiced how it would be an irresponsible thing and a further erosion of public trust for Seraphin to be reappointed,” Tracy Chung, Urbana, said.

On the other side of the argument is Hazen and a petition he gathered with 950 signatures supporting police.

“Worst case scenario, they don’t reappoint these folks, no one else is going to want to step up into their shoes and have the same fate. If you’re a sergeant why would you leave union protection to put yourself in a spot like that,” Hazen said.

Hazen says police are already running thin with employees and he says he’s concerned with the morale of the department.

“They’re protecting us from life and death situations. They’re going to horrific scenes. They deal with things that you just wouldn’t understand unless you’ve been there and done it,” Hazen said.

Other members of the community disagree.

“What we have seen are superficial efforts by the city and the police department under Chief Seraphin’s leadership to make it sound like there is change,” Chung said.

They do not want to see some police leaders reappointed and believe a change needs to be made.

“At the same time, residents were concerned about the bigger picture and called for updated and safer police policies as well as police accountability,” Chung said.

The council plans to vote next Monday on those reappointments. You can attend virtually on Zoom.
WCIA reached out to Mayor Diane Marlin about this, but she said she does not want to comment on this until later in the week.

Some positions up for reappointment are Lieutenant Matthew Bain, Lieutenant Jason Norton, Assistant Chief of Police Richard Surles, and Chief of Police Bryant Seraphin.

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