Champaign community listening sessions start Thursday

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Quentin Shaw

Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb kneels with protestors as organizer Drake Materre speaks outside of the Champaign Police Department during a protest following the death of George Floyd on June 1. New listening sessions will allow the community to address public safety needs.

By Samantha Boyle, Managing Editor for Reporting

Earlier this month, the City of Champaign announced dates for community listening sessions, which would allow members of the community to share their vision and ideas for the future of public safety.

The first listening session is scheduled for Thursday from 6-8 p.m.

These sessions will be a resource for the City Council as they decide how to best address public safety needs, interests and values of the public.

“The community is our best partner, and it’s important our neighbors have the opportunity to voice their thoughts and expectations around policing directly to the City to help guide our future work as public servants,” said Chief of Police Anthony Cobb in a City of Champaign press release on Sept. 10.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the listening sessions will be held via Zoom. Other sessions will be held on these days:

Sept. 29, 6-8 p.m.,

Oct. 3, 1-3 p.m.,

Oct. 9, 1-3 p.m.,

Oct. 13, 6-8 p.m.

Cobb, City Manager Dorothy David and other city officials will all be present at each listening session. A moderator will also be present to help facilitate dialogue during sessions.

Each session will be dedicated to listening to the community input and suggestions, and each session will be recorded and available later on the City of Champaign’s website.

More in-depth discussions will follow the listening sessions where community members can talk about the future of policing in a series of smaller “study circles.” Information from the study circles will be shared with City Council as well as with the public in a written report.

“This is unquestionably an important time in our country, and identifying a path forward we can all be proud of begins with listening, learning and working together,” Cobb also said in the news release. “We are committed to growing and strengthening the bonds of trust between law enforcement and our community through empathy, mutual understanding and education. To help in this endeavor, we hope to hear from many in our community during the listening sessions.”

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