New Group In Champaign County To Provide Support For Local Police Officers
An Urbana police officer is one of the founders of a new non-profit group formed to provide support for police officers in Champaign County.
Urbana Police Sergeant Matt Rivers traveled to Dallas to represent his department at the funerals of some of the officers slain there in July. He says the broad public support he saw for the police in Dallas inspired him to help form a group to encourage that support in Champaign County.
Rivers says he co-founded the Police Support Association of Champaign County with his wife Christy, and is serving as its initial acting president. He says its first members include active and retired officers from law enforcement agencies throughout Champaign County, their family members, and interested members of the community.
Rivers says the Police Support Association is not affiliated with any law enforcement agency. But he says the group has the support of area police chiefs.
Rivers says part of the group’s work will be to provide direct support for officers, through material support, officer wellness efforts, emergency support and emotional support.
One of the first material support goals of the Police Support Association is to raise money to buy rifle-rated body armor for every uniformed officer in Champaign County.
But Rivers says he also wants to work on improving relations between police and the public.
“What we’re hoping to do in the county is not only improve the connotations for the words ‘police officer’ or ‘law enforcement’, but also to show the people that we’re invested in the community as well,” said Rivers. “So, we’re not satisfied with just taking care of our own. We want to show the people that we’re invested in them as well.”
Rivers says an organizational meeting held Sunday in the Champaign County ILEAS Center in Urbana for the fledgling Police Support Association drew about 50 people --- both police and civilians. Rivers admits he wishes the turnout had been more racially diverse. He says the Police Support Association will be announcing some public events in the next few months.