URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — Urbana is the latest Central Illinois city to search for a new police chief after chief Bryant Seraphin announced his retirement on Thursday.
Serpahin will step down on March 25. He’s been with Urbana Police for 27 years and has been chief since 2018. He became interim chief upon the retirement of Sylvia Morgan in 2018 and was sworn in as the permanent chief in 2019.
“Becoming the chief of police was never part of my original plan. I simply took the first police officer job I was offered at twenty-two years old, and that was here in Urbana. Then, life happened, and I was able to build a career that included successes and failures, ups and downs. I would like to thank the Mayor and this community for their faith and trust in me,” Seraphin said in a statement. “I am proud of how far we’ve come as a profession in the last quarter of a century. We are so much further ahead when dealing with mental health issues, both in our interactions with citizens and within the walls of our police department with our own employees. As long as we treat each other with grace and respect, we can continue to move forward in a positive way.”
“Chief Seraphin has brought positive, supportive, and energetic leadership to the City of Urbana,” said Urbana Mayor Diane Marlin in a statement.
Under Seraphin’s watch, Urbana police added body cameras, the department worked with Urbana schools to implement a full-time school resource officer program, and police officials teamed up with Rosecrance for a co-responder model to follow up on mental health calls.
“The scrutiny police have been working under locally and nationally since George Floyd has created a necessary urgency in addressing these policing issues,” said Tracy Parsons of the Community Coalition. “Chief Seraphin has stood tall and shown to be a good leader in tough times.”
Last summer, some community members called Seraphin’s reappointment into question over the department’s handling of the arrest of Aleyah Lewis. The city council ultimately kept the chief on the job. But Marlin changed the way appointments work, and the Lewis incident went along with an overhaul of the police department’s use of force policy.
Marlin said Thursday she plans to appoint Deputy Chief Rich Surles as interim chief. Surles has been with Urbana police for 25 years. He said he will not be a candidate for the next permanent chief.
“During the nationwide search and the following transition period, I am committed to ensuring that the Urbana Police Department continues to maintain their high level of service to the community, and I look forward to working with members of the police department, city staff, and community partners and collaborators through this process and into the future,” Surles said in a statement.
The city will soon launch a broad search for the next permanent chief. Urbana will join Champaign and Springfield in looking for a top law enforcer. Champaign’s search is in progress after Anthony Cobb stepped aside. Springfield chief Kenny Winslow recently said he’s retiring on January 28.