CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – A new proposed agreement could help provide more protection for other parts of the city, as the Champaign Police Department deals with a staffing shortage.
Right now, CPD has more than 20 officer positions open. With the rise in calls they’re experiencing, it’s putting a strain on the department. Now, the U of I police department is hoping to take some of that pressure off.
It would mean UIPD would add 7 new officers to its team and start taking calls for the Campustown area.
It stretches all the way from Springfield Ave. to Windsor Rd. and Neil St. to Wright St. It’s a plan that would help relieve some of the burden on the Champaign police, keeping the community safe.
An agreement between the Champaign and the University of Illinois Police Departments.
“We think this is going to be a good thing both ways,” Pat Wade, with the U of I Police Department, said.
It would put University Police in an area that’s mostly filled with university-run businesses and students.
“I think our officers are excited too, because I think they recognize that this is something they’re already doing. They’re comfortable with students, they know what they need, they can get students connected with the university’s resources as well,” he said.
It would take some stress off the Champaign police department that’s short staffed, and put their resources to better use in other areas of the city.
“It’s critically important, and we are great partners with the university in all areas, particularly in policing. The university has a great police force, the Champaign police department also has a great force. We work collaboratively all the time we respond to calls, we back each other up. So, this is just a natural extension to that,” Jeff Hamiliton, with the city of Champaign, said.
Right now, CPD has more than 20 positions open, and UIPD said they already patrol the campus town area. So, they say it’s an easy fit.
“I think the thing all of us always say is that crime does not stop at Wright St. Very similar issues are happening in cities all the time. Those issues can impact campus,” Wade said. “It’s really a great thing we have in this community. The great relationship that we have between the university and the city of Urbana, the city of Champaign and the Champaign County sheriff’s office.”
This agreement has to be approved by the Champaign City Council. That is set to happen Tuesday night. If approved, it would start in October and go for at least two years, with the possibility of a third.
There’s a hefty price tag stuck to this agreement too. If it’s approved, the city would pay UIPD $840,000 a year for the two years. That would cover the cost of the seven new officers to the university.
A city document said that money would come from the open positions within Champaign’s department. Those vacancies mean salary and benefit costs are below budget.