Police Departments Across Champaign County Form Interagency Task Force

Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb

Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb urges the community to come forward with any information about gun violence and urge family and friends to put the guns down.

(Photo: Tiffany Jolley)

Gun violence is not just a City of Champaign problem, it's a Champaign County problem.

That's why law enforcement agencies from across the county are joining forces to fight gun violence.

Since February, forty-three shooting investigations have been opened in Champaign-Urbana, and three shootings in only the last two weeks in Rantoul.

In response to the increased gun violence in the areas, Champaign, Urbana, U of I police and most recently, Rantoul have agreed to pool resources and information to halt the increase in shootings across all three communities.

Through September 7th, eight police officers from all participating agencies will serve on the taskforce full time, and will be evaluated and supervised by police administration.

U of I police chief, Jeff Christensen said the biggest resource for putting an end to the violence is cooperation from the community.

"We need a societal community response to this," said Christensen, "not strictly a law enforcement response."

While local police already work together and pool information on crimes, this will help erase borders and allow officers from different departments to work together daily and make stopping gun violence the primary focus of officers, they said.

"We all know Wright Street does not separate the problems these communities face," Connolly said.

Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb noted that the violence has been retalitory among local gangs in Champaign.

"There is a gang presence in our community always has been to some degree. Some of the things we are seeing are neighborhood cliques.

We don’t have that hardened presence that you once saw in the 90s and early 2000s, but we do have a presence. Individuals who are associated together to commit criminal acts.”

Champaign County Sheriff, Dan Walsh urged those with any information on shootings in the community to come forward. Walsh says he has reached out to people they believed could be potential shooting targets, who refused to cooperate with police and was gunned down on the street within a few days.

"Insist that they get rid of the guns. We do not want any more people injured or killed," said Walsh.

Story source: WILL