Peoria police building arsenal for summer safety

By Denise Jackson

April 30, 2014 Updated Apr 30, 2014 at 9:59 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Peoria Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard says he is optimistic that violence and crime won't be as bad this summer, compared to recent years.

With the exception of a 10-percent increase in thefts, overall crime is down.

There has been one murder in the city this year, compared to two at this time in 2013. Six people have been shot, last year that number was 15 and the number of shots fired incidents is down 29-percent year-to-year.

Peoria Police have another tool in their arsenal this summer, when crime tends to spike.

Lieutenant Vince Weiland keeps a close eye on the department's newest weapon, the ShotSpotter.

Since last November, Peoria Police have used this high tech computer technology to track when and where gunfire erupts in the city.

"It takes us to the right place very quickly and I know at some point we're gonna end up with clearing a very serious shooting as a result of ShotSpotter,” Settingsgaard said.

The Chief says ShotSpotter alerts come directly into patrol officers cars. He hopes by building public support for the program, gunfire won't be as prevalent in communities.

In addition to the ShotSpotter program, Peoria Police are using residential officers. They are scheduled to place another one on the south side inside a hot spot zone.

We asked some residents how they felt about a cop living in their neighborhood.

"I think it's a good idea, less crime,” said one resident.

"I think the idea of having a residential cop is a good deal,” said resident Doc McClellon. “It helps stabilize blocks.”

The police department has also begun rolling out new hires. They are betting that, combined with technology and the Don't Shoot initiative, residents will enjoy a safer summer.

Peoria Police are asking for community involvement to curb violence. They are hosting a series of “Don’t Shoot” open houses. For more information, click on the link above.

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