CHAMPAIGN - In years past, public discussions of the Champaign Police Department could be ugly affairs, typified by finger-pointing, misunderstandings and defensiveness.
Not so Tuesday.
A strategic plan presented by the departmental brass was met only by praise.
?I tell you what, it's a lot nicer to talk to people about the police department now than it was 18 to 20 years ago when I first got up here,? said council member J.W. Pirtle.
The five-year strategic plan was developed with the help of city consultant Lyle Sumek and considerable involvement from employees and the public, including a three-hour community summit attended by 45 community members last spring.
The plan consists of goals and objectives for the next five years, the activities or ?core businesses? that will be used to meet those goals, and a set of guiding values intended to guide police interaction with the community as the department goes about reaching its goals.
It is the guiding values, said City Manager Steve Carter, that provide the foundation for the department's long-range success.
?We have a very young department. They get a lot of technical training but the strategic plan provides some things we think are important in how officers conduct themselves as part of the broader community,? he said.
Deputy Chief Troy Daniels said the values are encapsulated in the phrase ?Service with PRIDE,? with the word PRIDE being an acronym for performance, results, integrity, dignity and enthusiasm.
Service, Daniels said, means being responsive to people's needs, helping with solutions, treating citizens as customers and doing so in a professional manner.
?We don't want officers sitting back waiting for problems to come to them,? he said.
There will be a new emphasis on personal accountability, self-improvement, teamwork, integrity, treating others respectfully, upholding the rights of all citizens and supporting diversity within the department.
Deputy Chief John Murphy said the plan goals were developed with a lot of thought, exchanges and follow-up with citizens. It was an enlightening experience in that officers learned that the services they thought people ought to have weren't always the kinds of services people themselves wanted.
The goals are: policing with the community; safe streets, safe neighborhoods, safe community; safe place for kids to grow up; building a professional police department reflective of the community; and more effective use of technology, better police practices and greater efficiency. Each of those goals is accompanied by a list of objectives and definitions of what those goals mean to citizens and police officers.
Police Chief Jim Luecking said the plan is being developed as a working document with action steps for each objective and ways to measure and review progress toward those objectives.
Council members were highly complimentary of the plan.
Ken Pirok said he wanted to make sure the department was attentive to the need for objective treatment of all citizens regardless of race or where they lived.
Council member Tom Bruno, a defense lawyer, said of all the police departments with which he deals within 100 miles, Champaign's is far and away the most professional in officers' conduct in the courtroom, their use of the language and the professionalism of their reports.
Also Tuesday, the council gave tentative approval to the city's Neighborhood Services Department to solicit developer interest in commercial development on Bradley Avenue between Market Street and the Illinois Central tracks. The city has bought all the property and demolished most of the buildings that used to be on the site.
Staff members said landowners and a realty company city have inquired about building commercial property there.
The council also approved further negotiations with Herff Jones, Cap and Gown. The city has recently acquired the Beebe Trucking property at 738 N. Market St. that it wants to trade to Cap and Gown for Cap and Gown's parking lot directly east of Beardsley Park.
The city actions are part of a long-evolving plan to redevelop the Beardsley Park area, much of which has been improved in recent years with the investment of Community Development Block Grant funds. Some $2 million has been set aside this year and over the next two fiscal years for demolition and street reconstruction on portions of Eureka, North, Champaign and Beardsley streets.