URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — One man is making a difference in his community. He’s striving to stop gun violence in Central Illinois.
“I happen to have a law enforcement role in this, but it’s definitely more than a law enforcement role than it takes to curb this gun violence,” Champaign County Sheriff Dustin Heuerman said.
That’s because Champaign County Sheriff Dustin Heuerman says it’s going to take everyone to stop gun violence.
“There are lots of issues compounding, and so it makes a one stop response a very difficult,” Sheriff Heuerman said.
He says he’s working throughout the county with several police departments and organizations, such as Community Coalition, to help curb the violence.
“We need to get to them at the right point and show them that there is a productive way to get out aggression or productive way to live your lives,” Sheriff Heuerman said.
He says these programs work, but only at the right times.
“By the time somebody picks up a gun and is randomly shooting at somebody else its very difficult to persuade them to stop doing that without actually physically arresting them and taking them into custody and stopping them from doing that,” Sheriff Heuerman said.
There’s more to police than just arresting people. He says there’s a national stigma surrounding authorities, and Sheriff Heuerman wants people to know there’s more than meets the eye.
“There’s a lot more to me and other law enforcement officers including my deputies that we don’t always see. We put on the uniform, we put on the badge, and we do a job, but at the end of the day when we take that gun and badge off we’re regular everyday people, who have families and kids and we’re involved in sporting activities and things like that,” Sheriff Heuerman said.
He says while his line of work looks different than some, at the end of the day, he’s a person like everybody else.
“What we represent the badge isn’t necessarily who we are as people. Its just a job like any other job would have, we’re just, we just have to have a gun and a bullet proof vest on to do ours,” Sheriff Heuerman said.
He’s continuing to send out his deputies to try and build those relationships so people feel safe and comfortable when they see police or deputies.
“Talking to neighbors and trying to get them to realize hey we’re here for you if you have questions or comments let us know. That’s been very positive over the last couple of months,” Sheriff Heuerman said.
Sheriff Heuerman says his favorite things about being Sheriff is the challenge aspect of it and also helping others.