Law enforcement from across Illinois discuss how to reduce gun violence

By WEEK Producer

September 5, 2013 Updated Sep 5, 2013 at 10:09 AM CDT

NORMAL, Ill. -- Law enforcement from across the state gathered in Normal Wednesday for a summit on reducing gun violence.

It also provided exposure for Peoria's implementation of the Don't Shoot program.

"This is how we learn from one another," Peoria Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard said. "As the city of Peoria, we're not coming to the rest of the state and saying we know all the answers and we have every problem solved."

About 200 members of the Illinois law enforcement community packed an auditorium at Heartland Community College for a summit of reducing gun violence.

They listened to David Kennedy, the architect of the Don't Shoot program, and heard from a panel from Peoria where Don't Shoot has been implemented for roughly a year now.

"We want people to understand that they can do it, we want people to understand it will work for them if they do it and if they want to do it we want to help them," Kennedy said.

Peoria County Sheriff Mike McCoy told the assembled audience of law enforcement that the best indication Don't Shoot is working is his jail, where the daily average population has decreased by about 100.

"I believe that's because people know that if they're going to commit crime and their gang is going to rise to the forefront that we're going to come after them," McCoy said.

"We have a long way to go on this and we're very sensitive to the fact that, for the most part, the violent crime in Peoria is happening in specific areas and we're focusing on those areas," Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis said.

According to David Kennedy, Don't Shoot is also seeing positive results in bigger cities like Chicago, where he cites a 30 percent reduction in homicides.

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