State’s Attorney and Chief of Police discuss improving Carbondale

By Keaton Yates, Staff Reporter

Joe Cervantez, Jackson County’s State’s Attorney, and Stan Reno, Carbondale’s Interim Chief of Police, held a forum hosted by Southern Illinois Unity Coalition on how they plan on improving police relations, violence and crime in Carbondale. 

Cervantez spoke in the past about his plans for Jackson County, his primary focus being criminal justice reform. 

See more: With all precincts reporting Cervantez takes lead in State’s Attorney race, Kupferer takes narrow lead in coroner’s race 

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See more: Newly elected Jackson County State’s Attorney Joe Cervantez begins his term 

“I believe our criminal justice system is supposed to work for everyone, not just for some,” Cervantez said.

Cervantez said he doesn’t want to just focus on prosecution, but also ensuring that victims and community members are being heard and that healing and crime prevention are being talked about.

Within his first couple of months in office, Cervantez has started to make sure their office is data driven. In order to do this, Cervantez is working with Southern Illinois University to give Criminal Justice and Law students the opportunity to work in the State’s Attorney office for credit.

In March, Cervantez will be setting up a Citizen’s Advisory Board, he said. Cervantez said there are numerous other programs in the works as well, such as an Alternative Prosecution Program and a Warrant Amnesty Program.

“Sometimes we have to prosecute, we do that often. Sometimes we have to take care of violent crimes and make sure that people who commit violent offenses are not in the position to make our neighborhoods less safe,” Cervantez said. “It’s the toughest part of my job.”

Reno said he is excited to start working with newly-elected Cervantez. Since late 2020 when he stepped into the Interim position, Reno said he has started many programs as well.

Reno said he has begun working with the Human Resources Department to have officers meet with selected members of the community to talk about issues. 

Another goal of Reno’s is to increase transparency in the department, he said. Now citizen’s can view things such as the Use of Force Policy on the website along with Mobile Video Recording Policy. There will also be a daily report of arrests on the website. 

An arrest was made last night at The Cellar, a pub on 101 W Monroe St, that citizens were concerned about in the forum. 

“I only know very few facts about the arrest reference from last night at The Cellar. I’ll share with you what I do know: our officers responded to a disorderly subject who was intoxicated,” Reno said. “The subject became belligerent and battered one of the police officers, which resulted in his arrest.”

The case will have to go through a chain of command before it gets to Reno and then ultimately Cervantez. 

A member of Carbondale also sent in a question asking about Xe’Quan Campbell’s case, a 16-year-old shot and killed in November of 2019, and gun control.

See more: 16-year-old killed in shooting early Friday

See more: Mourners gather at vigil for Xe’Quan Campbell, Keon Cooper

Cervantez said since the case has not been closed, he has started looking into the case. 

“There are still answers to be found and our office will continue to look at that case and review it,” Cervantez said. “As long as someone hurts and as long as they have a reason for me to look at a case, I’m going to continue to look at that case.”

Cervantez said he will be working with the Carbondale police department about gun violence, referring to it as a “health crisis.” He said the case numbers are staggering. 

Reno said gun violence in Carbondale is a problem and agreed that cases were staggering. 

“It’s a community problem we need to work on together,” Reno said. “It takes all of us to come together and solve this problem.”

Staff reporter Keaton Yates can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @keatsians.

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