Council picks at-large nominee, gets answers on police department issues

By Audrey Wise

Council picks at-large nominee, gets answers on police department issues

August 28, 2013 Updated Aug 28, 2013 at 9:45 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- In executive session Tuesday night, Peoria City Council members discussed two big items, including a replacement for the late Gary Sandberg and further discussion on the job performance of Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard.

During the executive session, council members came with their top five picks to fill the vacant at-large seat.

After narrowing it down, Mayor Jim Ardis said the majority of the council voted for Beth Jensen. He said Jensen worked for the city's legal department for a number of years.

"She's got significant experience in government, in politics and policy issues. She has a very good working knowledge, as a lot of the candidates did, of the city government and the issues that we're facing right now," said Mayor Ardis.

City staff will conduct background checks on Jensen this week.

The mayor said if everything checks out like it should, the council will vote to make the appointment official next Tuesday night.

Also in the hour-long closed session session, the council received some information they had requested two weeks ago in regard to some Police Department policy issues.

At the previous council meeting, several council members voiced concerns about how Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard has handled some controversial issues in the department. After a 4-hour executive session that night the council still had some questions.

Peoria City Manager Patrick Urich said those were mostly answered Tuesday to the satisfaction of the council.

However, the chief was ill and was not able to attend the meeting.

"At this point in time we had a brief update for the council and hopefully when the chief gets back we'll be able to follow up on the rest of the items and have the concluding piece to this wrapped up," said Urich.

Urich said they hope to do that at the September 10 meeting.

During regular session, the Peoria City Council unanimously approved a $405,000 proposal to purchase ShotSpotter Technology. ShotSpotter is a network of tiny microphones that detect gunfire.

If gunshots are detected, an alert is sent to the Peoria police dispatch with the location of the gunfire.

The service will cover a 3-mile area on the city's south end moving into the West Bluff area.

The city hopes to get the system installed before fall.

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