New Champaign police chief fills several vacant positions

CHAMPAIGN — After a flurry of retirements in the past several months, police Chief Anthony Cobb filled open positions in the department's upper ranks Tuesday.

All three promotions came from within the department. Cobb, a relatively new hire himself, named Lt. Joe Gallo as his third deputy chief and promoted sergeants Robert Rea and Tod Myers to lieutenant.

The move was part of Cobb's reorganization of the department. Since being sworn in as police chief on March 12, Cobb has spent his time getting to know Champaign police officers and the inner workings of the department, he said.

Reworking the department structure is partially for budgetary reasons, he said, but also because he thinks the promotions will improve the department.

"I need to get people in places where it plays to people's strengths," Cobb said.

Cobb said he received internal feedback from those whom the three supervised. Cobb also examined their body of work, he said, and invited community members to have input in the interview process.

The police chief said community involvement in the promotions process is something that he plans to do regularly.

"We're public servants," Cobb said. "What better way to serve the public than to get their input on who should move up within the organization."

Department policy also plays in to who gets promoted to the brass ranks. Some of the criteria are subjective, but a testing process is a big step in how a sergeant becomes a lieutenant.

That process was the subject of an anonymous email last year alleging favoritism had become part of promotions. The email, which was sent to high-ranking city officials and later leaked to the press, was said to have been authored by police employees and contained specific details of the internal workings of the department.

The anonymous email directed some of its accusations at then-Chief R.T. Finney and Deputy Chief John Murphy, both of whom have since retired.

Gallo, who effectively replaces Murphy as one of three deputy chiefs, previously served as the investigations division commander and supervised the department's detectives and school resource officers.

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