Bridging the gap between Police, Peoria’s East Bluff; Grand opening of Police Resource Center

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – Local officials, including Peoria Police Chief Loren Marion, discuss some details of the grand opening of the Peoria Police Resource Center.

Chief Marion says this center will offer many everyday needs for community members of Peoria’s East Bluff.

“Education, job training, computer training, employment opportunities, alcohol and drug treatment, mental health treatment, healthcare services, educational support, tutoring assistance, emergency counseling, food pantry, transportation, identification and driver’s license, birth certificates,” Chief Marion said.

Chief Marion says Peoria Police have another resource center located within Harrison Homes, and another Police substation at Northwoods Mall.

“It’s a multi-purpose center, it will not be staffed 24/7 so we will not have an officer at this location, however, it will be accessible for officers 24 hours a day 7 days a week,” Chief Marion said. “The importance of the resource center is to use it as a way to reach the community.” One of the things since when I first took over as Chief was the community policing aspect and to get out more in the community.”

Chief Marion says this center has been years in the making.

“About two years ago, I got a call from Heartland Healthcare and they had talked about ‘hey we’re looking at putting a location up on the East Bluff at the old Kroger’s and we’d like to partner with the police department and put a neighborhood office up in that area,” he said.

Heartland’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gregg Stoner says this is a great partnership between the two organizations.

“We are so excited about today. This has been a couple of years in the making to try and have a presence from the police department here at this location,” Dr. Stoner said. “We think it’s a great asset for this community and a stabilizing force for this community.”

Officer Chris Johnson, the Focused Deterrence Project Manager, will be leading the charge. He will be meeting with community members to help them figure out what their needs are.

“I’m excited about this facility because some of the hurdles I’ve run into during the COVID period has been a place to meet, sit down, do a needs assessment,” Johnson said.

Tim Riggenbach, Peoria City Councilman for the third district (which includes the East Bluff), says this center will help bring energy back to an area that hasn’t seen much life in the last few years.

“The Kroger Plaza being empty, except for Heartland, has been a challenge for us. Now that we know Heartland has control of it, offering this space to us. It helps build the security that people fear sometimes,” Riggenbach said.

To set up an appointment, Chief Marion says to call the non-emergency line at (309) 673-4521.

Andrew Rand, Heartland’s Board Chairman says this has been in the works for awhile.

“Sometime last year we closed on this entire property. we bought this from Kroger with the purpose of creating a stronger more vibrant presence on the East Bluff with additional tenants that had missions similar to our own and that we believe would be helpful in stabilizing the East Bluff and helping it take a step forward to becoming a safer and more welcoming neighborhood,” Rand said.

Rand says in the next two weeks a planning committee will be made for the East Bluff site.

He adds Senator Dave Koehler announced two weeks ago there was a $1.35 million grant to help with capital costs for the property.

You can see the Facebook live of the press conference hosted by Chief Marion below.

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