Interim police chief chosen for Champaign


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — There’s a new interim police chief coming to the City of Champaign.

A press release from City Manager Dorothy Ann David says Deputy Chief Matthew Henson is being appointed to serve as Interim Chief of Police, effective August 6.

“Henson will serve as Interim Chief upon the departure of Chief Anthony Cobb until a new Chief is appointed,” says the press release.

“Deputy Chief Henson has served our city well for over 20 years,” says City Manager David. “He is respected within the Police Department and our community for his leadership, work ethic and professionalism. He fully understands the high expectations that our community has for the office of Police Chief.

“Matt is a person of great integrity who takes his commitment to public service very seriously. He is the right leader to continue to move our department forward during this time of transition.”

The press release says Henson joined the Champaign Police Department in 2001 and has since climbed the ranks as a Patrol Officer, Patrol Sergeant, Patrol Lieutenant, and Investigations Lieutenant.

This February, Henson was appointed to the position of Deputy Chief of Operational Support and Professional Standards by Chief Anthony Cobb. In that role, the release says, Henson oversees officer standards, internal affairs, the citizen complaint process, the criminal investigations division, the police services unit, and fiscal administration.

The press release says he started his career in law enforcement in 1995 when he signed onto the Arcola Police Department and Charleston Police Department, before moving on to the Champaign Police Department.

“As a member on Chief Cobb’s senior leadership team, Henson has worked to foster community collaboration as an active participant in the Champaign County Community Coalition and through the police-community listening sessions,” the release says. “He has partnered with the City’s Neighborhood Services Department to address neighborhood-based problems, share information with residents and improve quality of life.”

In 2018, Cobb named Henson as the winner of the Chief’s Distinguished Leadership Award for his commitment to excellence, along with effectively managing and developing his employees. He was also CPD’s Office of the Year in 2007. Charleston Police also named Henson as their office of the year in 2000.

“I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity the City Manager has entrusted me with, and I look forward to building upon our department’s important work in partnership with all of our officers, residents, neighborhoods, and businesses,” says Henson. “Throughout this transition, I am committed to ensuring we maintain a high level of service and that our decisions are informed by community input. I am also committed to promoting officer well-being and ensuring our talented officers are set up for success. I would like to thank Chief Cobb for his guidance and leadership, and I will continue to work with the community and our officers so we can all move forward together.”

Henson earned his Bachelor’s in Administration of Justice at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, minoring in Sociology and Psychology. He also finished an advanced leadership development program at the Southern Police Institute at the University of Louisville upon being promoted to lieutenant.

David says the city began a nationwide search Wednesday for their next chief of police.

Henson has told the City Manager he is not applying for the permanent Chief of Police position, the release says.

“Henson will work closely with Chief Cobb prior to his departure to ensure an effective transition.”

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