CHAMPAIGN, Ill., (WCIA) — One Champaign Police officer said having added security and resources helps them out exponentially, and now, that’s what city leaders are talking about on Tuesday night.
With the weather getting nicer and more people headed downtown, they want to make sure there’s a plan to keep people safe.
Last year, Champaign started working with a private company to bring security guards downtown on the days people are out and about the most. Police said it helped then, and they want to see it happen again.
Tom Bruno, a city council member, hopes the vote is a green light. Other people who spend a lot of time downtown think the same.
“We have a valuable asset in our vibrant and robust downtown. We want to keep it that way,” Bruno said.
He thinks security again this summer should come back to Downtown Champaign.
“The presence of security personnel will help reassure people that they aren’t out there alone,” Bruno added.
People are getting ready to spend more time outside in the summer months, and he wants to focus on safety.
Police said having extra patrols in the past have helped with that.
“Last year we had them because of the shortage in staffing for our officers, this year we’re still down 30%,” Katherine Thompson, a Lieutenant with Champaign PD, said. “They helped with watching different behavior going on, they helped with disorderly calls, they help remove subjects.”
She wants that to continue moving forward, and city council is talking about it.
“We are asking for additional security and maybe some additional resources downtown to help them better respond and protect the downtown area,” Thompson added.
Akili Fields lives in Champaign and enjoys spending time in the area. But, she admits she doesn’t always feel safe.
“Almost every night I go to sleep and I’m hearing somebody skirting off in their car, somebody shooting, there’s different fights, arguments all the time,” Fields said.
She hopes this is one solution to help curb the problem and stop the fighting.
“If that gets out of control, there are people here that can help report that problem, help deescalate those kinds of situations,” Bruno said.
He pictures it as a ripple effect and believes businesses will benefit if the measure passes.
“The gem that we have created in Downtown Champaign needs to be nurtured and preserved,” Bruno noted. “People are opening new restaurants, the customers want to try new things.”
But in the end, the decision is up to council.
“Even if it doesn’t actually change the environment, it makes people feel less afraid,” Bruno said.
If passed, the security guards would be downtown at night on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays starting May 25 and running through January 1.
The city said it would cost $329,587.