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Updated: Feb 7

By: Erica Floss-Becker

For the past six years, shootings, defined as any time police find physical evidence that a gun was fired, have been increasing. In 2021 specifically, there were over 259 recorded incidents, according to reports from the Champaign Police Department. In 2022, that number was down to 129, creating a drastic plummet since years past.

With crime spiking across the nation in 2021 during the pandemic, 2022 was set to be the year for major efforts in lowering the number of shooting incidents by addressing three of CUPD's main goals: reduce gun violence, increase community engagement and address quality of life concerns, according to reports.

These goals were hoped to be achieved through the city's investment in programs through the Community Gun Violence Reduction Blueprint, a system that identifies community needs and devotes necessary resources quickly and efficiently. The Community Gun Violence Reduction Blueprint was approved by the City Council in February of 2022.

The blueprint explained that "The root causes of gun violence include: income inequality, poverty, underfunded public housing, under-resourced public services, underperforming schools, lack of opportunity and perceptions of hopelessness, and easy access to firearms by high-risk people."

The first goal on the blueprint was to reduce gun violence, with many examples on how to tackle these root causes:

1. "Reduce interpersonal/community violence, street violence, gun violence, homicides and shootings."

2. "Reduce the involvement of youth in groups associated with interpersonal violence and connect “at-risk” youth to positive opportunities."

3. "Provide individuals who participate in serious violent crime with individually tailored tools, skills, and resources to lead healthy, productive lives."

4. "Reduce the risk of violence and retaliations by implementing offender-focused strategies which reach offenders who have rejected other forms of support and persons who are facilitating criminal activity but have not yet been convicted."

5. "Assist persons affected by violence and conflict to overcome stress and trauma by providing them with coping tools, skills, and services to help them regain stabilization and normalcy."

Its second goal aimed to enhance community engagement and support. 363 staff hours were devoted to increasing community engagement and hosting events, resource fairs and block parties where concerns and/or compliments were encouraged to be voiced.

The blueprint indicates these key tactics:

1. "To provide coordination for all programs and practices designed to reduce community violence through community-based intervention strategies and focused enforcement strategies."

2. "To provide a more seamless service delivery system for a broad continuum of services and reduce barriers to accessing services by those who are most in need of social services."

Addressing quality of life concerns meant responding to five times the number of traffic stops in 2022 compared to 2021. These stops led to unlawful guns being confiscated, and in turn reducing gun violence.

While addressing quality of life concerns was CUPD's third goal, the blueprint also indicates its third goal of "ensuring the most effective use of available and potential resources."

As stated on the blueprint:

1. "Ensure that financial and staff resources are used wisely, and that violence prevention interventions supported by the City of Champaign are achieving their desired outcomes and impact."

These goals, along with the efforts below, are what contributed to 2022's success.

According to the CUPD report, in 2022 the Champaign Police Department:

  • Attended 43,857 service calls, marking an increase from 2021 by 5.72%

  • Arrested eight out of nine suspects in Champaign in 2022, with a reduction of 47.1% from 2021.

  • Seized 236 firearms

  • Hired 30 new personnel

  • Implemented 23,000 hours of police training

  • Utilized new technologies for crime investigations

  • Worked with the Equity & Engagement Department to provide care to victims of violence in the community

  • Bettered the alliances with area law enforcement agencies using the Campus Police Services Agreement

According to Joe Lamberson, Assistant to the Police Chief for Community Services, while most of the shootings in 2022 occured off campus, two incidents occurred on campus with one being a homicide. However, the way in which the majority of the 2022 shootings affected the campus was minimal, but even a single shooting is too many, Lamberson noted.

"I've been with the city for more than seven years, there were a time that we only had a handful of incidents a year and even those were considered too many. So, We'd like to see a return to a previous sense of normal, if you will."

CUPD's hope is to maintain these low numbers of shootings as well as monitor and evaluate the programs put in place in case there is a community need to pivot to something else.

To learn more, our Good Morning Illini, Michal Szczepaniak, has more on what this means for students:

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