Mayoral candidates weigh in on violent crime

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URBANA — Mayor Laurel Prussing and Alderwoman Diane Marlin are both running for Urbana Mayor, but they have conflicting views over where the focus should be when it comes to the city’s violent crime.

Prussing cites statistics she was given from the police department, saying violent crime has had a huge decrease over the past decade.

Marlin said it’s more important to see how recent violence has impacted people in the community.

“The violent crime in urbana was cut in half from 2004 up to the end of 2015,” said Prussing.
   
But Prussing realizes 2016 is a different story.
 
“We hadn’t had that kind of shooting. We hadn’t had those kind of murders,” said Prussing.
 
One thing Prussing and Alderwoman Diane Marlin can agree on is a bigger police force.
 
“When that fourth one happened, I just called the police chief and said it looks like we’re having a shooting war. I think we need more officers. How many would you need, and he asked for five,” said Prussing.
 
“I support adequate staffing of the police force,” said Diane Marlin.
 
Marlin says the support the police department would be getting hasn’t been given before.
 
“The police department has asked every year for the past five or six years, each time the budget was being prepared, and they were turned down. So now we are playing catchup,” said Marlin.
 
If catching up is the case, marlin wants to wait a little longer, until the next fiscal year, to hire them.
 
Prussing says that’s counterproductive.
 
“There’s really no benefit to waiting. If you need the officers now, it would take months to train them,” said Prussing.
 
While violent crime is being addressed, Prussing is highlighting the numbers, while Marlin highlights the areas.
 
“49 percent, or cutting it in half, is the real significance,” said Prussing.
 
“Rather than focus on statistics, what we should be focusing on are the areas of the city that we need to pay the most attention to,” said Marlin.
 
We spoke with the Urbana police police chief who agrees with both of them on this: more policing is needed, and gun violence needs to come to a stop.
 
Prussing and Marlin aren’t the only ones running.
 
Evelyn Underwood and Rex Bradfield are also in the race.

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