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University police and administration meet to combat crime

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A member of the Board of Trustees claps for the new chancellor Robert J. Jones.

A member of the Board of Trustees claps for the new chancellor Robert J. Jones.

Yangwentao (Ryan) Fang

Yangwentao (Ryan) Fang

A member of the Board of Trustees claps for the new chancellor Robert J. Jones.

Megan Jones and Lilly Mashayek

 

Chancellor Robert Jones settled into his first official week at the University after a shooting on Green Street. A month later, there was another shooting on Green Street. Two months later, he watched his peers handle a shooting at Ohio State University.

Safety is a big issue for any administrator. Jones said interviewers have stopped asking university presidents what keeps them up at night, because everyone would respond that they worry about on-campus shootings.

University of Illinois Police Department Chief Jeff Christensen said he holds regular meetings about safety issues with either Jones or Associate Chancellor Mike DeLorenzo.

Jones said student safety was a growing concern voiced by student groups, faculty and staff during a Senate Executive Committee meeting on Nov. 7.

He said the shootings in Champaign do not raise concern with on-campus safety, but remain a concern because of their proximity to areas where many students live and spend their time.

“We do have to start to thinking more intentionally and strategically about these kinds of issues when they occur near campus,” he said. “We have to remember that with a campus community of this size, we are a microcosm of the broader society and stuff happens, regardless of our best efforts.”

Recently, a focus of the safety meetings has been on gun violence, Christensen said, adding that they hope to host a meet and greet with other police chiefs, the county sheriff and Jones.

“The University is involved with the community coalition … a community group that was established some time ago to address community issues,” he said. “A lot of different people attend, (including) reps from the University.”

Christensen made it clear that the issues facing Champaign County are not separate from those facing the University.

“The campus district isn’t immune. We have seen that from what happened at Third and Green (streets), this can spill over,” he said. “So that’s how everybody works together for the better good of the entire community.”

Another effort made recently is establishing a gun task force, which represents Champaign police, Urbana police, the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office and the UIPD, and creating a community coalition. The coalition was established to address community issues, to improve police-community relations and to focus on community-based problem solving, Christensen said.

The coalition meets once a month at the Champaign Public Library and includes members of social resource agencies, churches, University representatives, city officials, all police agencies and community members.

majones5@dailyillini.com

lmasha3@dailyillini.com

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