Police patrols could shift, city revives police advisory committee

By Ashley McNamee

July 28, 2010 Updated Jul 28, 2010 at 10:34 PM CDT

The city of Peoria is up to 88 shootings, making 2010 one of the most violent years in the city's history.

Nearly two weeks ago the Police Department dedicated more officers to patrol the areas with the most activity, but now say the activity may be shifting.

Peoria Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard says the shooting task force and its 16 officers have been patrolling Harrison and Taft Homes, the Bluff, and the North Valley. He says there has been one homicide, but maintains officers are making a difference.

"Issuing traffic citations, making arrests, they've arrested three murder suspects, one was wanted in St. Louis, and two local murder cases," he said, adding officers have confiscated 16 illegal weapons as well.

Chief Settingsgaard says it has only been 12 days, but during that time at least five shootings have occurred on the Bluff. He says he will not pull out of any of the south side hot spots, but he may re-allocate officers to the bluff to address the rise in shootings.

"We saw one or two more in the Bluff and I think the South end dropped off by about half," he said.

Peoria residents like Adam White, who owns Running Central, want to do more.

"What we have done as a city is tremendous, but what we have the opportunity to do is even more incredible," said White, who was born in Peoria and returned to start his business.

White is interested in joining the city's Advisory Committee on Police and Community Relations. Tuesday city council members unanimously voted to revive the committee and increase its membership from 11 to 15 people.

"I think it is a social responsibility for people, if they want change and they see a better opportunity for everyone involved, get involved and offer your perspective," said White, who has been working with Carl Cannon on projects for the city's youth already.

Joe Hudson was the chairman of the committee before it disbanded several years ago and says he would do it again. He says it was a place for community members to come and communicate their concerns to the police department.

"The more these incidents occur, the more people are afraid to talk about them because it could happen to them," he said. "People weren't afraid to come talk to the committee."

He says the bottom line it the commission was successful then and it certainly wouldn't hurt the city to try it now.

If you're interested in applying to be on the commission, visit the Peoria Mayor's web page and fill out a volunteer application by July 30.

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