Interim Urbana police chief not yet sure if he wants job permanently

Interim Urbana police chief not yet sure if he wants job permanently

URBANA — On Friday, former Urbana police Deputy Chief Bryant Seraphin will replace Sylvia Morgan as interim head of the department, but he doesn't know yet whether he'll put his name up for the real deal.

"I think I'll have some family discussions, and we'll see where it goes from there," Seraphin said about putting his name up for the role of chief.

The Chicagoland-native first came to Champaign-Urbana in 1990 to study sociology at the University of Illinois. After graduating in 1994, he was hired by the Urbana Police Department, where he served as a patrol officer for five years, working with metro SWAT for some of that time.

He was assigned to criminal investigations in 1999, was promoted to sergeant in 2002 and then to lieutenant in 2007. In 2015, he was one of two lieutenants assigned to supervise patrols and became deputy chief in July of that year.

Seraphin said he wants to continue to evolve the relationship police have with the community, and he wants to push forward with fixing racial disparities in traffic stops.

"I don't want this to be the sole issue that people talk about when it comes to Urbana police," he said. "I know that we've made some changes with that already, and we'll continue to move forward with that."

Seraphin and his new interim deputy chief, Robert Fitzgerald, will start their jobs Friday.

In other business at Monday's city council meeting:

— The city authorized $600,000 for the last phase of its portion of the MCORE project, which would span between just west of Busey Street to Race Street.

All of the money comes from motor fuel tax revenues the city gets, and it will fund engineering services, preparation of plans, estimates and other early engineering work.

— Urbana Garden Restaurant is now allowed to have up to five video-gambling machines, but the council wants to see a map of all the gambling establishments in town to make sure they're being spread evenly throughout the city.

There are some serious concerns about gambling, especially when it comes to lower income communities, said Alderman Aaron Ammons, so he wants to make sure the city looks carefully at the issue.

He called the G1 liquor license, which allows up to five video-gambling machines, a subtle way to get more gambling in the city. There are currently no caps on how many G1 licenses the city can issue.