Law Enforcement set to weigh in on Don't Shoot Program

By Denise Jackson

March 27, 2013 Updated Mar 27, 2013 at 6:41 PM CDT

PEORIA,IL--Peoria city officials hope to get a better handle soon on how the "Don't Shoot" anti-crime initiative is playing out in the river city. Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard said even though violent crime is down for the first three months of the year, he's not sure if the Don't Shoot program is responsible, or if it's just cyclical.

Peoria cops like many others know that crime tends to slow down in the winter months. Earlier this year the Peoria Police Department reorganized to include a target offender unit as part of the Don't Shoot initiative..merging vice and narcotics with street crimes, with more cops sharing responsibilities.

"The numbers are looking good so far this year, January, February and half of March compared with the same period last year, we're seeing anywhere from 15% to 30% drops in shots fired calls, calls where there's evidence of gunfire," Chief Settingsgaard said.

But he adds it's too soon to tell if the Don't shoot program is having a big impact. He said the city will seek a $700,000 federal grant to bring in a liaison to analyze the program. In the meantime Mayor Jim Ardis said the corporate sponsorship is solid.

"Right now we've been the benefactors of a lot of good corporate support to get this thing off the ground," Ardis said.

Don't shoot coordinators said the foot work from police rolls on, and add a new educational component is set begin this year. It will target high risk middle school students warning them about the dangerous consequences of gang activity.