UI professor appointed to Champaign police review committee


Photo Courtesy of Professor Alexander N. Harmon-Threatt

Alexandra Harmon-Threatt, assistant professor in the Department of Entomology, is one of five members on a new subcommittee, which reviews complaints filed against the Champaign Police Department.

By Kevin Delgado, Staff Writer

On August 1, the city of Champaign voted to implement a new subcommittee that will include the input of its citizens and focus on promoting police-community relations.

The subcommittee consists of five community members who will work under the Champaign Human Relations Commission, a board responsible for the promotion of equal rights and opportunities in the city.

One of these subcommittee members is also a member of the University community, Alexandra Harmon-Threatt, assistant professor in the Department of Entomology.

“I was really honored to be appointed to the committee and to bring my perspective to the commission,” Harmon-Threatt said. “It is a good opportunity to be more involved in the community.”

Additional members that were appointed to the committee include Mike Ingram, Melissa Keeble, Emily Rodriguez and Demario Turner.

Each member of the committee was interviewed and selected by Champaign Mayor Deborah Feinen.

“During the selection process, I was looking for fair-minded and committed community members who wanted the opportunity to serve the community,” Feinen said.

The focus of the committee is to review complaints filed against the Champaign Police Department and the investigation into those complaints.

To further the committee’s understanding of proper police procedure, committee members are required to complete training that will focus on police policies, including the use of police ride-alongs and a force simulator.

“The simulator engages the user in scenarios that an officer might encounter,” said Jeff Hamilton, communications director for the City of Champaign City Manager’s Office. “The intent is to have the subcommittee go through several of those scenarios so they can put themselves in the shoes of an officer who might encounter these scenarios on the street.”

Once the training curriculum designed by Police Chief Anthony Cobb and Champaign Community Relations Manager Rachel Joy has been completed, the committee will begin reviewing police complaint investigations.

After the initial internal investigation, the subcommittee will then conduct a separate investigation and provide feedback to Cobb, who makes the final decision.

The subcommittee will hold bimonthly meetings, and the first is expected to take place Jan. 1, 2018, according to Hamilton.

“We look at this as an opportunity to show the community that the police force complaint process is held in a professional manner and that we are open to their input on that process,” Hamilton said.

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