New Champaign police officers sworn in

CHAMPAIGN — A year later, the reorganization of the Champaign Police Department is just about complete.

Police Chief Anthony Cobb and Mayor Don Gerard swore in six new police officers on Tuesday night — more than one year after a slew of retirements at the top of the department triggered a chain reaction of promotions and hirings.

Cobb himself was part of that readjustment. He took over the department in January 2012 after then-Police Chief R.T. Finney retired in 2011.

Every police rank was affected by retirements and promotions during the past year — a lieutenant was promoted to deputy chief, sergeants to lieutenants, and officers to sergeants.

Cobb said on Tuesday that he thinks he has made 20 promotions and 10 new hires in his one year as chief.

"It's a process," Cobb said. "Change isn't going to come overnight, and there's a lot going on behind the scenes."

The six officers sworn in Tuesday fill out some vacancies left by those promotions and positions that had been left unfilled for budgetary reasons.

Those six will not necessarily have an immediate impact on the street. Based on their experience level, it might be six months to a year before they have the appropriate amount of training to begin their full responsibilities.

The new officers range in experience. Two are cadets whose next step will be the Police Training Institute. Another, Kurt Buckley, was an eight-year veteran of the Urbana Police Department who is transferring to Champaign.

The swearing-in ceremonies preceded a presentation to the city council on the department's community outreach efforts during the past year. Police officials detailed their school resource officer programs and other initiatives targeting community youth.

"It's amazing, the amount of time you put in to serving the community," said council member Will Kyles. "I call it loving the community."

Cobb said he appreciated the accolades that came with the presentation on Tuesday night, but he realizes there are still plenty of strides to make.

"We're comfortable with where the organization is at this point in time," Cobb said. "But we realize there's still a lot we can do as an agency."

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