New police force created to stop gun violence

By Atoosa Sayeh

The Champaign Police Department, Urbana Police Department, Champaign County Sheriff’s Office and University of Illinois Police Department are working together as a newly formed task force to address recent gun violence in the Champaign-Urbana community.  

The group held a press conference Tuesday to discuss their recent addition of a Street Crimes Task Force.

“This unit is a group of individuals coming together to work this problem,” said Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb. “They’re going after individuals that have been associated with this violence.”

Cobb said the task force would investigate the gun violence acts, and go to the areas where the issues are occurring.

“We really want to make it challenging for the individuals associated with gun violence to continue to do these acts,” Cobb said.

The task force will also be collaborating with the
neighborhoods where most of the gun violence is occurring. Urbana Chief of
Police Patrick Connolly said it is important for people to provide any
information they have about the gun violence offenders.

 “Our goal is to strengthen the neighborhood and identify those responsible for the shootings,” Connolly said. “Our hope is that we can strategically focus on this community problem and put a stop to this continued violence.”

According to Connolly, since February 16, 43 additional shooting cases have been opened in the community. 

Currently, eight members of the community’s police departments are on the task force. Most of them are sergeants and come from various departments in the area.

Along with focusing on the individuals responsible for gun violence, the task force will be utilizing traffic stops to intercept gun
violence offenders, and it wants the public to know that these stops will be
increased.

 The task force will start from June 2 and go until September 7 to assess its progress. Cobb said the task force’s duration could be longer depending on its progress.

“We need a societal community response to this. Assist us in solving these problems,” said Jeff Christensen, police chief of the University Police Department. “Our most important resource is our community, and this community is Champaign County; it has no borders.”

Funding is coming from all of the Champaign Police Department’s agencies. 

[email protected]