CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — A monumental moment happened today in Champaign as a new street sign is unveiled.
The sign is in honor of fallen Champaign Police Officer Christopher Oberheim. Champaign city officials held a public ceremony Tuesday evening to dedicate a portion of University Avenue as Honorary Christopher Oberheim Avenue.
Officer Oberheim was tragically killed in the line of duty on May 19.
Police said at the time that Oberheim and his partner Officer Jeffrey Creel were shot by a suspect while responding to a domestic disturbance call. Creel was later treated and released from a hospital.
On June 1, the city council approved a resolution designating University Avenue between Neil and Chestnut streets to be named after Oberheim, in honor of his memory and to recognize his selfless service to the community, the release says.
Police Chief Anthony Cobb led the ceremony, which included elected officials, such as Mayor Deb Feinen and Deputy Mayor Will Kyles.
“This is another important opportunity for our community to pay tribute to Officer Oberheim whose life was taken only because he chose to serve,” says Cobb in a press release. “The honorary sign will stand to represent the eternal recognition we owe our fallen hero for his exemplary service and ultimate sacrifice, and we hope the community joins us as we unveil the Honorary Christopher Oberheim Street Sign alongside his family.”
The Oberheim family attended the ceremony as honorary city guests. They unveiled the new sign on stage and were presented the plaques that will sit under the street sign. Hundreds gathered to watch and support Champaign Police Department and the Oberheim family.
“For more than 2 months, we have continued to reflect, mourn, and honor the selfless service and sacrifice of Officer Christopher Oberheim,” Chief Cobb said at the ceremony.
He said they were also coming together to celebrate Oberheim’s life and the tremendous and positive impact he had in our community, the law enforcement profession, “and importantly, how beloved he was as a father, husband, son, brother, coach, and friend.”
Cobb said the honorary street sign will serve the community as an everlasting reminder of a fallen hero who made the ultimate sacrifice.
The chief says Oberheim embodied what it meant to serve through trust, integrity, and respect, adding he took an oath of office and upheld it to the highest standard.
“To think Officer Oberheim is heroic simply because of his death is to miss the significance of why we are here tonight. What was so noble about Officer Chris Oberheim was the manner in which he lived. He did not lose his life. He gave it. That is what we are honoring here today.”Chief Anthony Cobb
Cobb said they were acknowledging another public servant who also upheld their oath to the highest standard: Officer Jeffrey Creel. Chief Cobb told WCIA that Creel is still in recovery.
The chief says around the clock, law enforcement professionals are focused on their promise to the community, to safety, to be resolute to their mission to serve and protect — yet they seek no recognition.
He also noted other fallen Champaign Police officers: Sgt. Thomas Dodsworth (1913) and Patrolman Robert Tatman (1967).
Cobb said the courage of those fallen officers will continue to carry forward, and the current men and women of the Champaign Police Department, regardless of the perils or hazards, are undaunted in their mission as public safety servants.
“Officers Oberheim’s name is now deeply engraved in the hearts of this community, for what he stood for and the ultimate sacrifice he made.”