“Most dire staffing levels have been”: The Champaign Police Dept. is severely understaffed

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA)– The Champaign Police Department is in the direst need of officers it’s ever been in. Officials said Monday this is a problem they’ve been trying to address for a few years.

So, how understaffed is the department?

About 26% of available sworn positions are either not filled at all, or are filled by someone who is currently on a leave of absence.

The department would be fully staffed at 125 sworn officers. Right now, there are 104. Subtract another 12 officers that are considered unserviceable, and that leaves 92 available to respond.

“‘Unserviceable’ may be the result of a duty injury, pregnancy, etc.,” explained Tom Yelich, Assistant to the Police Chief for Community Services.

Current staffing level breakdown at the Champaign Police Dept. (Chart courtesy of Tom Yelich, , Assistant to the Police Chief for Community Services)

Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb said a combination of the pandemic and nationwide reform are keeping people out of careers in law enforcement. Chief Cobb discussed this with WCIA on the same day he announced his resignation.

“We are at some critical crossroads in our country when it comes to policing,” Cobb added. “And I truly believe our community is up to the challenge to address it, but we’re going to need our community as a whole to come together.”

Yelich said this is not just a Champaign problem, it’s nationwide.

He said the low level of staff is firmly on the department’s radar. Yelich told WCIA the city is actively working on a plan to address it, and more information will be available on those efforts soon.

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