Partner agency honors U. of I. Police staff

URBANA — Two University of Illinois Police officers and a telecommunicator, among others, were honored on Wednesday by the Urbana Police Department, underscoring the cooperation between Champaign County law enforcement agencies as a key to keeping the community safer.

Officer Krissie Garcia and telecommunicator Kenny Costa received certificates of appreciation from the Urbana Police Department for their roles in tracking and detaining a suspect who had just robbed an Urbana bank. Officer Brian Tison received a certificate of appreciation for his role in speaking with and capturing an armed man who was in the midst of a mental health crisis and intent on hurting himself or others.

The U. of I. Police staff members were among a number of first-responders who were recognized by the Urbana Police Department on Wednesday at that agency’s annual awards ceremony for its own staff and other first-responders who have assisted the department. Urbana Police Chief Patrick Connolly highlighted the cooperation between Champaign County law enforcement agencies as a crucial part of his department’s and others’ continued success.

“I have often stated that the University of Illinois Police officers should be wearing a City of Urbana patch on their sleeve since they are constantly assisting us in addressing the needs of the city,” Connolly told Garcia.

In recognizing Garcia and Costa, Connolly recounted a robbery at an Urbana bank on July 3, 2015. Costa monitored the path of the suspect’s flight and provide a possible description. After receiving information that the suspect may have been in the area of First and Chalmers streets, Champaign, Garcia confronted the suspect and detained him until other units arrived. Ultimately, a significant amount of physical evidence, including a loaded handgun, was recovered.

“Thank you for taking the time to involve yourself in this situation,” Connolly told Costa. “Your actions emphasize the incredible working relationship among all the police agencies in this community.”

Tison, along with other Crisis Intervention Team officers throughout the county, is specially trained in responding and speaking to people who are experiencing a mental or behavioral health crisis. On May 15, 2015, Tison responded with Urbana police officers to the 700 block of West Illinois Street, where a man armed with a knife was threatening to kill himself and others.

Tison and other officers, including a Champaign County Sheriff’s deputy, spent nearly two hours trying to deescalate the situation. When the individual attempted to climb a balcony, the team of officers deployed a TASER and captured the man to prevent any further harm.

“Your efforts as the crisis negotiator were instrumental in the successful resolution of this situation,” Connolly told Tison. “Needless to say, the results could have been devastating, but because of your actions and the actions of the officers that responded to the scene, this individual was able to receive appropriate medical attention.”

The University of Illinois Police Department is very thankful for the close working relationship it enjoys not only with the Urbana Police Department, but also the Champaign Police Department, Champaign County Sheriff’s Office and other state and federal law enforcement agencies in the area.