The City of Champaign is hiring a female-minority-owned consulting firm to help it attract more, and more diverse, police officers.
The City Council voted unanimously and without comment Tuesday night to spend $69,000 to hire Lincoln, California-based All-Star Talent. The six-person firm has worked with police departments in Atlanta, Georgia; Oakland, California; and Broward County, Florida, among other agencies.
All-Star Talent will help the Champaign Police Department develop a new recruitment strategy and marketing campaign for attracting entry-level police officers.
According to a memo to the council from City Manager Dorothy David, council members first discussed ways to improve police officer recruitment in March of 2020, two months before the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer led to a wave of protests against police brutality and racism. But the city did not start looking a consultant to help them until August 2022.
After issuing three different Requests for Proposals, the city chose All-Star Talent over a local finalist, the Champaign-based marketing firm Surface 51. All-Star Talent’s experience in working with law enforcement agencies (the firm specializes in public sector employee recruitment) was cited by city staff as a “primary differentiator” between the two agencies.
Like many U.S. cities, Champaign has struggled to keep its police force fully staffed in recent years. Its police department hired 22 new officers in 2022. But the department, authorized to employ 126 sworn officers, ended the year with 17 vacancies, due to retirements and officer resignations.
In 2021, the Champaign Unit 4 school district cited a shortage of Champaign police officers in deciding to use private security guards at its schools, instead of school resource officers from the CPD.
And last summer, the city began using unarmed private security guards to help patrol downtown Champaign nightspots and University of Illinois campus police to patrol the Campustown area.