Durbin applauds early success of 'Don't Shoot'

By Audrey Williams

April 2, 2013 Updated Apr 2, 2013 at 8:02 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill -- City officials say early numbers for Peoria's 'Don't Shoot' program are positive. U.S. Senator Dick Durbin came to Peoria Tuesday to hear about some of that success as he works through national gun legislation in Washington.

"We've really had a significant chilling effect on those gang gun crimes," said Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis.

Peoria Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard said the city has not seen a gang-related homicide since September. He said all gun crime, except armed robbery, is down so far this year compared to the same time in 2012.

It's a positive report, but officials remain cautiously optimistic that the program will show continued success.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D) applauds the city's efforts and came to town to hear about the program Tuesday .

Senator Durbin said, "If we can find programs that are working to keep neighborhoods and streets and schools safer, let me hear about it."

Krista McCavitt was hired by the police department to coordinate needs of criminals who want help getting out of gang life. She said since the initial call-in she has helped about 30 people with everything from clothing and transportation to education and life skills.

"I'm not making the goals for these individuals, they're choosing the goals that they wish to attain and I will work as hard as they do to help them with that," said McCavitt.

Nikko Clark said he came to that initial call-in and now, through the help of Krista, he is working to turn his life around.

"It's been very helpful, the resources. I got into an urban re-authorization class, as far as job skills training and whatnot, and I just graduated that today," he said.

Senator Durbin said as he goes back to Washington and continues the national reform on gun laws he will keep this, what he calls practical and common sense, approach in mind.

"Take a step back and look at the current system and say, 'what makes sense? How do we avoid these incarcerations and repeat offenders and how do we change their lives?'. What I see here is working," said Senator Durbin.

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