Public invited to ceremony for two promotion recipients

URBANA, Ill. — All are invited to attend a promotion and pinning ceremony on Friday, Sept. 6, for Rachael Ahart and Matt Ballinger, whose new ranks are a reflection of their hard work in keeping our community safe.

The ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 6, at the University of Illinois Police Department, 1110 W. Springfield Ave., Urbana. All are welcome to attend.

Sgt. Ahart began her new role as a supervisor July 30. Previously, she worked as a detective and as part of the department’s Special Victims Unit, which is specially trained to investigate crimes involving sexual misconduct.

Sgt. Ahart has been with the University of Illinois Police Department since 2011, and she was the Officer of the Year in 2016. She holds a number of investigative certifications, including as a lead homicide investigator, child forensic interviewer and crime scene investigator. In addition to being a Special Victims Unit detective, she is an MTU instructor in Sexual Assault Trauma Informed Response.

She also holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Illinois.

“These professional achievements reflect her drive and enthusiasm for public safety, and they will serve her well in her new role,” said Executive Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police Craig Stone.

Sgt. Matt Ballinger will begin his new role as a lieutenant beginning Sept. 8. He has been with the University of Illinois Police Department since 2004 and has served in numerous leadership roles, including as a narcotics investigator, a sergeant with the Champaign County Street Crimes Task Force and as the METRO SWAT commander.

Ballinger holds a bachelor’s degree in general studies from Eastern Illinois University and served for four years in the U.S. Army as a Fire Support Specialist, 3rd Ranger Battalion, where he achieved the rank of sergeant/team leader and received numerous awards. 

“Matt (Ballinger) is motivated and excited to take on these new leadership responsibilities,” Stone said.

Members of the news media wishing to attend should RSVP to UIPD Communications Director Patrick Wade by calling 217-265-0028 or emailing