Urbana chief: Level of violence ‘troubling’ in city


Champaign County had some high profile cases last year — including a school shooting and a teen murder suspect who’s claimed multiple personalities — but overall violent crime rates remained largely flat.

Urbana Police Chief Matt Lingrell said he’s concerned about the amount of crime in the city, even though the statistics don’t show an increase in violent crime last year.

“For Urbana specifically, the one thing that troubles me most is the level of violence right now,” Lingrell said. “We are seeing more acts of violence and more actual infliction of violence and injuries than we have in my 33-year career in Urbana.”

No homicides were recorded in the city of Urbana, according to statistics from the police division analyzed by the Springfield News-Sun. Champaign County Sheriff’s Office data also shows no major uptick in violent crime.

MORE: Violent crime rates decline in Springfield in 2017

Lingrell said although there were no homicides in Urbana last year, the city recorded only two homicides between 1994 and 2010 and since then it’s seen five. That’s too much, he said.

“That is troubling for everyone,” Lingrell said.

The division made 215 more arrests last year than it did in 2016, according to the statistics. That can be contributed to the way the division handles drug crimes, Lingrell said.

“Most of the crime that we and any other agency are facing can be tied directly to narcotics and the drug trade,” he said. “One of the things we do is we have a very strict drug enforcement policy, even with the current status throughout the state trying to come up with help programs, our policy here is to seek out all drug crimes, low level and high level, and charge those people.”

READ: Montgomery County Jail death has ties to Champaign County

Getting drug offenders in the criminal court system is the best way to keep track of who have problems and getting them off the street, Lingrell said.

“Our first look at things is not to get people help, it is getting them into the criminal justice system and if the court has programs that they will believe will help them, we are for it,” he said.

The Urbana Police Division made 529 drug-related arrests last year compared to 417 drug-related arrests in 2016, according to the crime statistics.

In Champaign County, violent crime went down from 146 reported cases in 2016 to 133 reported cases in 2017. However, there was a school shooting at West Liberty-Salem High School and 15-year-old Donovan Nicholas has been charged with murder in connection with a violent attack on his father’s fiancee.

RELATED: Champaign County teen to be tried as adult in murder case

Champaign County deputies are working hard to stop crime before it happens, Sheriff Matthew Melvin said.

“I’ve been very fortunate to be able to implement a couple of community involvement programs that recruit the help of citizens in crime fighting throughout Champaign County,” he said.

The sheriff’s office has started a farm-watch program by working with the Champaign County Farm Bureau, Melvin said, and creating the organization SCENE with county residents to expand a neighborhood watch program.

Though violent crime is down, the sheriff said drug crime is up.

EXTRA: 1 dead after Champaign County shooting: What we know now

The county saw 13 more drug possession arrests last year than in 2016, according to the sheriff’s office statistics.

“Champaign County continues to fight the opioid epidemic as does Ohio and the nation,” he said. “This epidemic has affected not only the opioid user but also the innocent victims of this county.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Crime

German explosion: 25 hurt, 4 seriously, in Wuppertal blast
German explosion: 25 hurt, 4 seriously, in Wuppertal blast

At least 25 people were hurt in an explosion in Wuppertal, Germany, police said Sunday. According to The Associated Press, four victims were hurt "severely" in the blast and ensuing fire late Saturday at a "several-story building." The other victims suffered slight injuries, the AP reported.  >> Read more trending...
Urbana University’s new sports complex part of multi-million dollar investment
Urbana University’s new sports complex part of multi-million dollar investment

Urbana University hopes to finish a new athletic facility by the end of July, just in time for students to celebrate the grand opening when they come back to campus in August. Christopher Washington, who serves as the executive vice president at Urbana University, said the 10,000 square-foot building is one of the cornerstone projects being built as...
'Fixer Upper' stars Chip and Joanna Gaines welcome baby boy, reveal his name
'Fixer Upper' stars Chip and Joanna Gaines welcome baby boy, reveal his name

The latest addition to Chip and Joanna Gaines' family has arrived. The "Fixer Upper" stars took to social media Saturday to announce the birth of their fifth child, sharing a photo of the baby boy and revealing his name. "Our baby boy, Crew Gaines, is here and we couldn’t be more in love," Joanna wrote Saturday night...
San Diego police shooting: 2 officers injured, suspect dead
San Diego police shooting: 2 officers injured, suspect dead

Two police officers reportedly were shot and injured late Saturday in San Diego, California.  Update 1:43 a.m. PDT June 24: KNSD’s Omari Fleming reports that investigators are unsure whether the suspect died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound or was killed by officers. KSWB’s Andrew Luria tweeted that &ldquo...
World's Ugliest Dog Contest: Zsa Zsa the English bulldog slurps up 2018 title
World's Ugliest Dog Contest: Zsa Zsa the English bulldog slurps up 2018 title

An English bulldog has fetched the crown in the 2018 World's Ugliest Dog Contest in Petaluma, California. According to The Associated Press, Zsa Zsa, a 9-year-old pooch from Anoka, Minnesota, won the pageant Saturday, beating out more than a dozen less-than-pretty pups for the $1,500 grand prize. According to the event's website, Zsa Zsa "...
More Stories