Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb is a native of the Champaign-Urbana community. In 1992, Chief Cobb started his law enforcement career with the Urbana Police Department (UPD) where he would spend 20 years serving the citizens of Urbana. He progressed through the ranks, from police officer, to the position of Assistant Chief of Police. In March of 2012, Chief Cobb retired from UPD in order to accept his current position as Chief of Police with the City of Champaign; he is the second African-American police chief in Champaign. Chief Cobb has two teenage children, daughter Troy and son Myles.
See why we think Chief Cobb is a Chambana dad to know.
Q: What do you want parents to know about how the city and community are addressing gun violence?
I want the public to know that Champaign Police and our local partners are taking this gun issue very seriously. We’ve formed a Street Crimes Task Force, with membership from Champaign, Urbana, University of Illinois Police, and the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office whose primary function is to address and reduce gun violence in the community. The Task Force is addressing hot spots and problem areas and will utilize intelligence-led policing methods to address known offenders and their associates involved in criminal activity.
We are also working with several entities through the Community Coalition to take a multi-prong approach to address violence. We certainly want to hold the individuals involved in these crimes accountable, but we also know we cannot resolve this issue solely through arrests. There are a number of initiatives also taking place that address mental health resources and youth jobs and program opportunities.
Q: What do you think was the impact of the recent community police meetings?
The recent meetings were a positive start to our commitment to foster greater communication with the citizens we serve. We are focusing our energy on building healthier, trusting relationships, as well as being more transparent about the functions of our Department, so providing an opportunity to discuss our strategic planning efforts was a great start. The meetings were very well-received by our citizens and I think we’re all looking forward to continued community-police dialogues.
Q: How do you think parents should teach their children about interacting with police?
I would encourage all parents to talk with their children about possible police interaction, especially when their child reaches an age when they will be traveling in our community alone. Parents should teach their child his or her rights and how to properly engage certain situations if stopped by an officer. They can stress the importance of being respectful while requesting to have a parent present. They can teach their child to be quiet, patient, and to listen, to allow the officer to provide explanation. I have a 16- and 19-year-old, so I know how “quiet”, “patient”, and “listen” can be alien concepts at times. But joking aside, it is important for our youth to know that officers have a job to do and a responsibility to community safety. Sometimes officers are looking for suspects and it requires them to sort through details and follow lengthier procedures, so it’s important that our children positively comply with requests. Parents can re-enforce these discussions through “what/if” scenarios in which they present their child with a set of circumstance to see how the child responds. For example, my son Myles is practicing to get his license so as we’re out driving I’ll ask him what he would do if he is stopped by a police officer. He’ll verbalize what he would do and I provided feedback and further emphasize my expectations.
Q: What can families do to get involved to make our community safer?
Families should make time to build a sense of community within their neighborhood. Take time to get to know your neighbors and work together to make your neighborhood a better, safer place. I know we all have busy lives, but taking time to be engaged in the neighborhood around you will make us all safer. Both cities of Champaign and Urbana have neighborhood groups and neighborhood watch programs that will allow opportunity for that engagement.
Q: You’ve been in this position for three years. What do you think have been the most important accomplishments during that tenure?
I’m proud of the work that is being done by the men and women of our police department. We have several employees who go the extra mile daily to make lives better for our citizens. A lot of this excellent work is highlighted on our Facebook page and I would encourage citizens to like and follow our agency on Facebook and/or Twitter.
In addition to the work that is being done by our officers, I’m very proud of the work that is being done around our community coalition. Together we all are working to build trusting, healthy, collaborative relationships.
Q: I read where you said the birth of your children is one of your most important memories. What does it mean to you to be a father?
Absolutely. I enjoy being a dad. I have two wonderful children who I love unconditionally. For me, being a father means striving to be a role model for them, but also striving to allow them to be their own unique person. I recognized my children are like night and day in whom they are as individuals, so my parenting approach is different based upon the uniqueness of each child.
Q: What does your ideal Father’s Day look like?
My ideal Father’s Day consists of me attending church with my parents and spending the day with them and my children.
Q: Tell us something most people don’t know about you.
Most people believe or conclude that I’m an extrovert because I’m always engaging people in conversation, but that’s the nature of my duties. I love interacting with our citizens and engaging in conversation around their questions and feedback, but when I’m not being the police chief, I prefer tranquil peaceful spaces.
Chief Cobb was nominated to be a Chambana dad to know. Nominate a mom or dad today — it’s easy!