What UIPD’s Campustown plans mean for student safety

CHAMPAIGN, Illinois – This weekend, the University of Illinois Police Department will assume primary responsibility for police calls on the Champaign side of Campustown, and local law enforcement officials expect that to mean more visible patrols in Campustown and faster response times throughout Champaign.

The intergovernmental agreement between the city and the university is a direct result of a longstanding cooperative relationship. It transfers patrol and response authority in those off-campus areas of Campustown from Champaign Police to University Police.

The agreement has been in the works since early 2022, and officially takes effect Saturday. The idea is in the spirit of partnership – University Police agreed to assume that responsibility to help Champaign Police provide more focused service in other areas of the city. The city and university both invested financial resources into the agreement, demonstrating a mutual commitment to public safety.

“We are grateful to the City of Champaign for its partnership and for this thoughtful arrangement,” said University Police Chief Alice Cary. “This will benefit campus community members and Champaign residents alike.”

Here are a few specific things campus-area residents and businesses might expect to see with the changeover:

Increased presence and faster response times in Campustown

As part of the agreement, the city paid a significant portion of the cost to hire seven new University Police officers. That gives University Police the necessary staffing to take on the new coverage area.

Having patrol units available and in the immediate area will result in faster police response to emergencies and general calls for service. It also frees up Champaign Police patrol units to remain closer to other areas in the city where they will continue to provide service.

“This means more visibility and a greater deterrence to would-be criminal offenders,” Cary said. “We’re looking forward to having the ability to be proactive in these areas because it’s where our students live, work and enjoy their free time.”

New Green Street substation

Although not officially part of the agreement, University Police this summer opened an office at 505 E. Green St. It houses the department’s Community Outreach and Support Team, security guards, Student Patrol, Community Service Officers and the Response, Evaluation and Crisis Help team.

The office adds visibility to the Green Street corridor and will help University Police increase its outreach and crime prevention activities in the core of Campustown. And because security guards work during nighttime hours, their presence at that office will add a security presence on Green Street.

Proactive work with Campustown businesses

In preparing for the Oct. 1 effective date, University Police officers have already made direct contact with more than 100 businesses in the new coverage area.

Most of the businesses in the Campustown area primarily serve U. of I. students. The goal is to understand those business owners’ concerns and needs so that police can be proactive in addressing those and helping the businesses keep their staff and customers safe.

University Police have set up a business resource webpage at go.illinois.edu/UIPD-for-business.

Student-focused services

Most residents in this area are U. of I. students. University Police have extensive understanding of student needs and concerns from their experiences on campus.

University Police also have a deep working knowledge of campus resources tailored to students’ needs. Officers will be proactive in making those connections when appropriate, and will continue to work with the Office for Student Conflict Resolution, where minor infractions can be resolved outside of the legal system.

“College is a learning experience in the classroom and outside of it,” Cary said. “Traditionally, we don’t write a lot of tickets and instead make use of our student disciplinary system, because we think that is a better route to facilitate that learning experience and equip students with skills that will serve them well in their adult life beyond graduation.”

Community Service Officers

Like the Green Street substation, Community Service Officers are not a direct result of the agreement with the city of Champaign – but they will help to increase police availability in the Campustown area.

Community Service Officers are not sworn police officers, but they are able to address quality of life issues and take reports for less urgent crimes, like minor theft and property damage. That means police officers will spend less time doing those things and more time addressing more urgent public safety issues.

This map shows where University Police’s traditional jurisdiction is (orange) in comparison with the new patrol area from an agreement with the city of Champaign (blue). There is some overlap in the zones because University Police traditionally only respond to call on university property, and city police agencies take everything else. However, effective Oct. 1, University Police will have primary responsibility for everything within the blue zone.