CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) – Urbana Police Chief Bryant Seraphin announced his retirement Thursday.
He’ll be leaving in March. That makes him the fourth Central Illinois Chief to announce they’re leaving in less than a year.
Champaign County Sheriff Dustin Huerman has been in his position for over three years. During that time, he’s watched three police chiefs retire or resign.
It started in July, when Decatur Police Chief Jim Getz retired. The next day, Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb said he was resigning. Then Kenny Winslow, the Springfield Police Chief, announced his retirement. Finally, Urbana Police Chief Bryant Seraphin said he would retire.
Champaign County Sheriff Dustin Heuerman said it’s a stressful job.
“It seems like for every person who has a comment on how we need to do our jobs better, there’s someone else saying the exact opposite of how we can do our jobs better. Quite honestly, that just wears on people after a while,” he said.
Now, three major cities in Central Illinois are working with interim chiefs. Two of those cities are in Champaign County. Heuerman said that can make it hard to get things done.
“So, you know obviously, we’re a very cohesive group here in Champaign County. We work well together. So, it always throws things in flux when we have a history with other administrators, and we’ve still got the same problems we’re working on, but now we throw someone new into the mix,” he said. “We do need a little bit of stability in police leadership in the area. If we’re going to continue the momentum and establish the goals the community has set for us. So, that I think is one of the most concerning things, because now we have to take a step back, and get someone else up to speed on how we’re going to move forward.”
Lawmakers on either side of the aisle said police leaving the profession is an issue across the board.
“It’s not just Champaign-Urbana. I just thought of 3 sheriffs that have retired in counties around Champaign Urbana. We talk to men and women on patrol, they’re retiring. I mean even Champaign, they’re on their third police chief in a couple months here. So, the men and women in law enforcement are hurting,” Chapin Rose, an Illinois State Senator for the 51st district, said.
“Yes, I’m concerned that the chiefs are leaving, but I’m more concerned there are openings at the entry level at an agency and they aren’t being filled,” Scott Bennett, an Illinois State Senator for the 52nd district, said.
Champaign police have been without a permanent chief for months now. Huerman said the climate in Illinois isn’t ripe for people in law enforcement coming outside of the state to work here. He said it’s a complicated environment right now, and it isn’t very welcoming for people to step into those leadership roles.