A dozen gang members indicted under Peoria's Don't Shoot program

By Denise Jackson

October 28, 2013 Updated Oct 30, 2013 at 11:14 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill -- Peoria Police have arrested a dozen gang members as part of the city's Don't Shoot anti-crime program

Police said the latest group, all members of the Zone 4 street gang, has been on its radar for nearly a decade and are implicated in a rash of recent shootings.

Last week, a grand jury indicted all 12 on charges of drug trafficking, membership with a violent street gang and conspiracy to use and possess firearms.

"We're not gonna tolerate it," said Peoria County State's Attorney Jerry Brady. "I think as the message gets spread hopefully they will begin to get the message that the Bomb Squad did not apparently present to Zone 4 that we are going to be vigilant."

"The people that continue to bring armed violence against our community are opening themselves up to this prosecution which will continue," said Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis.

Since the Don't Shoot program began over a year ago, Peoria Police have cracked down on gangs like the Bomb Squad and repeat violent offenders by hitting them with federal charges and harsh penalties.

Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard said a 10 percent drop in violence is proof that the program is having a positive impact.

"When there's a body that hits the street or a group steps up as the most violent you want to drill further down not just a Zone 4 umbrella or a Bomb Squad but drill down to that 5 or 8 that run in that small group and are responsible for that murder or a series of gun violence," he said.

If convicted, the gang members face 10 years to life in prison.

Chief Settingsgaard said on Wednesday authorities will hold a second call-in program. That is when known gang members are brought in, warned about the consequences of their behavior and given a chance to turn their lives around.

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