CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Champaign needs more police officers. The department is down about 20 people. Tonight, Champaign City Council talked about ways to change the hiring process.

The city manager said the process to hire a candidate can take up to six months, so by the time they’re ready to hire someone, that person may have accepted a job elsewhere. They discussed ways to change that.

A group including human resources and Chief Anthony Cobb presented a new way of hiring potential officers. This includes allowing applications continuously, instead of during certain hiring periods. They also talked about changing the application fee, eliminating panel interviews, and more. They hope this would help speed up the hiring process.

The group says filling the open positions would be a big help for the police department. Last week, Champaign Police reported 21 vacancies in their department. 26% of available sworn positions are either not filled at all or are filled by someone who is currently on a leave of absence. The department would be fully staffed at 125 sworn officers. Right now there are 104. Subtract another 12 officers that are considered unserviceable and that leaves 92 available to respond.

“We’re hoping that if we are more efficient in our ability to receive and process applications and then we can make offers more quickly, we can fill some of those critical vacancies we have,” Dorothy David, Champaign City Manager, said.

She went on to say this process will not change the standard and the expectations they have for the officers. The City Manager said the hiring process will involve public input, including looking to fill Chief Cobb’s position after his resignation.

People in public comment tonight discussed their opinions. Some people said they want to see more diversity as well as backgrounds in social work or philosophy. The meeting tonight was asking the council to amend some of these hiring changes.