District 150 police woes burden city officers

By Ashley McNamee

January 9, 2014 Updated Jan 10, 2014 at 10:52 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- A recent state decision deactivated District 150's police force. As of January first, those officers can no longer carry guns or make arrests.

The district has reached a temporary agreement with the city and now Peoria police officers will help patrol the schools, but it comes with a price.

Some Central High School students don't care that District 150's school resource officers have been stripped of their power.

"They don't really do nothin', I don't feel protected by them, not at all," said Josie Williams, a Central sophomore.

District 150 officials say students likely won't even notice a difference.

"School resource officers are still working their normal duties, essentially providing security for the school," said Chris Coplan, District 150 spokesman. "We're under no obligation to have an armed officer in our schools but that has been the practice here for the last 30 or 40 years."

Now a temporary agreement between the city and school district will have Peoria police officers inside the four high schools. The only problem? The police department does not have a full force, there are only 205 officers, a full force is 217.

The President of the Peoria Police Benevolent Association, Eric Ellis, says the union feels the move violates their bargaining agreement and they're filed a grievance as a result.

"We are down a serious number of uniformed officers and we're already receiving mandatory overtime notices," said Ellis. "We are committed to keeping our community safe and will go where needed but what we need is more officers."

Peoria's city manager says things may be tight at the police department now, but hopefully not for long.

"There will be additional shifts hired back on overtime to fill these slots but ultimately it is our intent to hire officers and fill the vacant slots as quickly as we can. The next round is in April," said Peoria City Manager, Pat Urich.

Urich says the district will pay for the city officers because safety is the priority and this is the best solution.

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