The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Urbana City Council discusses increasing police funding and presence

UIPD+officers+stand+alongside+one+another+during+a+encampment+protest+for+Palestine+at+Alma+Matter+on+April+26.
Alyssa Shih
UIPD officers stand alongside one another during a encampment protest for Palestine at Alma Matter on April 26.

The Urbana City Council held a rescheduled council meeting in addition to its regular meeting on Monday to discuss the future of police funding and ways to improve the efficiency of law enforcement in the city of Urbana. 

The city of Urbana had proposed a plan in March 2024 — referred to as the “BerryDunn report” — detailing how they plan to increase funding for law enforcement and up the number and presence of law enforcement officers within the city.

The report caught the attention of Urbana residents prompting some to attend the meeting where three residents voiced their concerns on the future of law enforcement in their city.

Urbana resident and doctoral candidate at the University, Sana Saboowala, spoke on the formatting of the BerryDunn report and the nature of its reliability.

“If this report was going through the scientific peer review process, both reviewers would’ve rejected it and it would’ve never been published,” Saboowala said.

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Camille Cobb, resident of Urbana and assistant professor of computer science at the University, pointed out the content of the report specifically the references to the late Sir Robert Peel’s — former British Prime Minister — philosophy on policing. 

“His (Peel’s) position on slavery was that ‘maybe we should just hold on’ and we don’t want to end that too fast because of the economy,” Cobb said. “These are not people that we can trust when it comes to their standards of policing.”

Ben Joselyn, another resident of Urbana, voiced his concerns about whether the current plan was upholding the values of its original mission.

“The reason that the budget was set aside in 2021 was because of the violent arrest of Aleyah Lewis in 2020 and the murder of George Floyd and the uprising and upswell of community needs for a different view of public safety,” Joselyn said.

Joselyn discussed how the new BerryDunn report was no longer following the original plan that was offered to Urbana citizens and was heading in the opposite direction. 

“You’re now considering a $1.5 million budget increase for the police as a direct result of the public outcry,” Joselyn said. “It’s a miscarriage of justice and a miscarriage of the faith and trust put in you by the citizens of Urbana.” 

All three residents speaking on the matter found common ground in the belief that the city of Urbana should explore different options with more effort. 

After public opinion, council members had a chance to voice their opinions on the matter. 

“I agree with some of the concerns with the BerryDunn report and that it’s inappropriate and not in line with the original goal of the study, to jump into hiring more officers before even exploring alternative systems or programs,” said council member Grace Wilken.

Council member Jaya Kolisetty expressed agreement with Wilken. 

“With securing the funds for this study, the goal was to look at alternative responses,” Kolisetty said. “I recognize that there are grand ideas of where we can go in a lot of different ways but we want a complete picture before we look at long-lasting changes that can have a significant impact on the city budget.”

 

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