Police department to add two special units to force

Vermilion County

DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — One special police unit will be making a return to Danville soon.

Danville Police Chief Christopher Yates said they will be re-manning and re-tooling their problem-oriented-policing (POP) unit. According to Yates, it hasn’t been on the streets for five or six years.

“It runs under the same principles, but at the same time, we’re sort of evolving it with the current challenges and issues that we have and how we want to address those,” he said.

He also said he wants the POP unit to focus on quality-of-life issues, such as problems of violence in certain areas and how they can mitigate those challenges.

“It’s going to be a very fluid unit,” he said, “where it’s not going to get too buried into certain investigations, but at the same time be able to bounce back and forth, deliver a solution to one and go to the next. Anything that requires more resources long-term will involve our investigations units, as well as other agencies that we have good working relations with.”

The Danville Police Department (DPD) will also be adding a community-housing unit (CHU). Yates said it’s going to work “hand-in-hand” with private and public management agencies, such as the Danville Housing Authority.

“It’s not just the Housing Authority that they’re going to deal with,” he said. “They’ll also help out with whether or not there’s a privately-owned apartment complex where they see enough problems, whether they’re nuisance problems or more serious criminal matters.”

Yates said the unit will establish relationships with both the community that lives in that neighborhood and their housing management agencies to determine what those problems are.

“First, of all, whether or not there’s any mitigation that’s required involving law enforcement, and if it does, then they’ll work hand-in-hand with the community that lives within that neighborhood to figure out a solution and then they’ll execute that,” he said.

The POP unit will start out with four officers, according to the police chief. With the CHU, that unit will start out with two officers. Yates said they hope to build on that, but they don’t want to put a lot of manpower and resources in those units.

“I remember when I was in the COPS unit back in the late 90s, early 2000s. We only had two people in that unit. We had three people in the unit sometimes, and we’d go back down to two. We were able to get a lot done because we pretty much pinpointed our different concerns that we had to deal with. We went through them very fluid-like.

“The COPS unit, actually somewhat involved into like the POP units. They’re all very similar, one’s community-oriented-policing, and one’s problem-oriented-policing. It all comes down to the community, and problems, and how we’re going to solve them together.”

He said both the POP and CHU will be doing a lot of similar things, but the CHU will be doing work on more of a micro-level, focusing on certain areas rather than overall community issues.

Yates also said they’ve run a lot of units like POP on a short-term basis to deal with certain problems at certain times.

“This is going to be around the clock,” he said. “How we’re setting it up is there will be at least two, and often six, of our special-unit officers working all at one time. Their schedules will be rotating to where they can have the most effective coverage.

“I think we’re going to have very good feedback from the community. We’ve already a lot of good feedback with the community, we’ve had different people say ‘hey, this is working.’ Also, we want to know when it’s not working.”

Yates said sometimes they’ve had more beneficial conversations with the community especially when they’ve had the same guys out on the street.

“They can get to know them on a personal level,” he said. “Not just a professional level, but a personal level where ‘hey this guy or gal is alright to talk to.’ We build up that public trust.”

Yates said he wants the public to take advantage of their relationship with the police.

“They have a problem, they have a concern, they understand that they know they can bring that problem to us and we’ll start working on it,” he said. “It’s not one of these things where they call in and we write down on a piece of paper and say ‘yeah, we’ll get to it when we can.’

“It’s not like that. It’s something that we can actually have a proactive, ongoing conversation and relationship with the people that live within our community. We’re not breaking contact. We’re always going to be there as far as understanding what they’re doing and what they need. I think that’s a good start.”

According to Yates, the two units will begin their work May 18.

“We’re looking forward to it. People are definitely going to see a change in presence.”

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