After the city's 10th homicide, Peoria Police Chief and Mayor defend the 'Don't Shoot' process

By Audrey Williams

September 7, 2012 Updated Sep 7, 2012 at 9:58 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill -- Peoria Police continue to investigate the city's 10th homicide of this year. The the first homicide since Peoria instituted its 'Don't Shoot' campaign to curb gun violence. Now, some have questioned it's effect. Mayor Jim Ardis and Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard both say it needs time.

Early Thursday morning 23-year-old Kensey Ross was shot in the head and died at the Riverwest Apartments.

"It's disheartening we had a murder, someone is killed. It just absolutely reinforces the need that we have to do something differently than we've done," said Chief Settingsgaard

Mayor Ardis said, "It brings to bear even more weight to say this is a problem and we need to address it and that's what we're working on right now."

What they are working on is a plan to implement an anti-gun approach.

David Kennedy is the man behind the book and the concept of 'Don't Shoot'. Last week he was in town to meet with city officials, law enforcement, and the community.

"If there's a mis-perception that we introduced the book and we started talking to the community and starting that day there wouldn't be any more gun violence, that's not accurate," said Ardis.

The biggest part of 'Don't Shoot' will take more time to get underway.

Chief Settingsgaard said, "This is going to be a gradual process that's going to take several months at a minimum, and in some respects it's going to take longer than that before we are really good at it."

Police in Rhode Island used the approach, they targeted the major crime groups, and brought in a few people from those groups for a major intervention.

"We're going to talk to you for an hour. Take what you hear back to your group because it's a new day and everybody in your group needs to understand what we're about to tell you," said Kennedy.

Peoria Police are working on a similar plan. After that intervention meeting, if and when there is another shooting, police say if one of those groups can be linked to it everyone will be under a microscope and will be arrested for any and all crimes committed.

"Some group, and it's going to happen, some group that gets that message is going to ignore it. And they're going to step forward and say 'let us be first, we want to play this game with you, make us first'. And they will be first. And at the end of the day they're going to wish they hadn't," warned Chief Settingsgaard.

That part of the plan is still in the formation stage. But Mayor Ardis and Chief Settingsgaard are confident a change is on the horizon in Peoria.

"I'm absolutely convinced when 'Don't Shoot' is in practice and it's had the opportunity to start bearing some fruit we're going to see a change. But that's a way down the road yet," said Chief Settingsgaard.

Settingsgaard would not comment if Thursday's victim, Kensey Ross, was connected to one of the groups they are looking at. There are no suspects for the murder at this time.

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.