Jail population? Effect of Don't Shoot Program

By Denise Jackson

January 10, 2013 Updated Jan 10, 2013 at 10:56 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Peoria County Sheriff Mike McCoy says they've seen a dip in inmate numbers since the start of the New Year.

While crime is cyclical, authorities believe Peoria's Don't Shoot Program may also be responsible for this pattern they're seeing.

Peoria County Sheriff Mike McCoy says at the start of the month inmate population at the jail had dropped to 485 the lowest in two years. Now, it is just over 500. Three years ago, the number of inmates had climbed to 550, close to figures reached in summer months.

McCoy says while colder weather tends to put a freeze on crime, he thinks Peoria's Don't Shoot Program is also having some impact.

"The premise of targeting a gang a whole gang for the actions of one person is not novel but it works. Being a part of a gang and being a low standing member, knowing that if somebody in the gang shoots somebody they're gonna come after you too has made a difference," he said.

McCoy says when authorities rounded up the worst of the worst bomb Squad gang members, they initially had problems with them but says things have quieted down.

Peoria Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard says even though several of them were rounded up, they're not off the radar.

"I don't believe we are done with the bomb squad. Many of them got arrested and are facing serious time but I still think there's enough of them that are out there active that we may go back to them," he said.

Settingsgaard says the gang is not the only one police are watching, but adds any peaks in violence will determine which group or groups authorities will target next.