Police update Champaign City Council on new crime reduction strategies for campus, city

By Colleen Vest

Officers from the Champaign Police Department presented information at the Champaign City Council study session Tuesday night.

The officers updated the council on current strategies to police the city, said Steve Carter, city manager.

“In these tough economic times, we need policing the most,” said Police Chief R. T. Finney. “The poorest neighborhoods are really hit the hardest, and we really need a strong sense of community.”

Lieutenants from different districts reported on any major projects that concerned the city.

Deputy Chief John Murphy said that dividing the city up into districts “creates a connection between shifts.”

Lt. Brad Yohnka presented information about campus burglary prevention.

“One of the most frequent calls we receive is about residential or motor vehicle burglaries,” Yohnka said. “Students don’t really know how to combat this issue, but once a burglary happens to them or someone they know, they feel victimized.”

Students are unaware of prevention strategies and have electronics in plain view that are easily traded for money or drugs, Yohnka added.

Michael LaDue, Dist. 2 councilman, said he is glad the police have a presence on campus.

“There’s a lot of people wandering alone at night on campus who just don’t understand the transition it takes to live on a college campus,” LaDue said.

The police department plans to educate students and other citizens about prevention and what to do once a crime has been committed through in-person presentations and written instructions.

“We want to give students some tips like communicating with neighbors, adjusting lighting and locking cars and garages,” Yohnka said. “We have been working with apartment managers, fraternities, sororities and other student groups.”

Officers have worked with JSM. Campus Property Management and Ramshaw Real Estate to include pamphlets and prevention tips in move-in packets.

“We really want to improve the relationship between police and people on campus,” Yohnka said.