Peoria Police Dept. announces changes

By Denise Jackson

October 15, 2012 Updated Oct 26, 2013 at 3:57 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- With all the gun violence in the last two months in Peoria, many are asking what happened to the "Don't Shoot" campaign.

Monday Peoria's Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard announced there will be some structural changes in order to get more results under the anti-violence initiative currently underway.

Peoria Police Chief Settingsgaard says beginning in January, the department will be restructured to include a target offender unit. He says by bringing back more police intelligence, they hope to zero in on those groups or gangs which are causing a large amount of the violence on city streets.

"We want to start with the violence," said Settingsgaard. "We want to say, 'okay, who's the violent group, are they dealing drugs and then make drug cases on those individuals?' Our focus is violence, our mission might be drug work that day but the end goal is to reduce violence," he said.

Police Chief Settingsgaard says a cultural change in the department is needed to get better results under the "Don't Shoot Initiative". Mayor Jim Ardis, a big proponent of the anti-violence initiative, says the city is in it for the long haul.

"Unfortunately we live in that society that wants to say, 'okay, identify the problem and go flip the switch' and it all goes away. It doesn't happen like that. But we're very focused on addressing these problems and implementing them by the people that have been successful," he said.

Unlike the saturation task force, Settingsgaard says the target offender unit will chase down those responsible for homicides and shootings, instead of making a full range of stops and traffic checks. He says the "Don't Shoot" program is still in the educational phase and will require long term approach, but Settingsgaard says he hopes to see some results from this target offender unit early next year.

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