Police open house bridges gap with community

Local News

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — The police department showcased its department as part of National Police Week with open house tours. As people entered, they were greeted with goody bags and smiles. 

“It’s just a good opportunity to connect to our citizens,” Champaign Police Deputy Chief Joe Gallo. 

A connection can start with this informal setting to get your questions answered.

“It could be something as simple as the weather or a topic that’s happened recently in the news so it’s just a good opportunity to just get to know each other,” says Gallo. 

From pencils and stickers to learning about the history of the department. 

“This is a five point sergeant’s star. There were only three of those ever,” says retired Champaign Police Officer Zane Ziegler.  

There was a room was full of CPD’s history. 

“I enjoy going through all of our history and digging up things, finding badges that are long gone,” said Ziegler. 

Ziegler was part of that after spending 28 years with CPD and says times have changed. 

“The last few years especially. Prior to that, it was more or less law enforcement. It’s pretty clear cut. You’re doing the crime or you’re not doing the crime. These days it’s more blurred and a little more difficult to do policing,” states Ziegler. 

It didn’t stop people from wanting to be part of the action.

“Again, that’s a great opportunity for them to see what the Champaign Police Department what we have to offer,” says Gallo.  

Wyatt Rhoden is one of those kids. He completed the DARE program at school last week. Now he wants to be K-9 officer.

“My job is just to support him as a parent and let him know what options are out there,” says Alisha Rhoden, of Vermilion County. 

His choice concerns Rhoden.

“There’s been a lot of high profile police things and just the danger. So it definitely be a mother’s first choice, I think, for their child, but I would be very proud of him if he chose that line of work,” states Rhoden.   

Another open house will be Thursday, 4 – 6 pm. The departent will also have its annual police memorial and Cop on a Rooftop fundraiser Friday.

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