PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — On Sunday, July 31, Peoria Police Chief Eric Echevarria will be celebrating his one-year anniversary in his role as chief.
“It’s gone by fast, it’s gone by very, very fast,” said Echevarria.
Almost 365 days with the title of Police Chief and Eric Echevarria has accomplished plenty of things.
“I was a part of the interviewing committee, and the things that he said that he was going to do, and other things that he didn’t say that he was going to do, he’s actually done,” said Pastor Marvin Hightower.
The chief created walk-and-talks where the police department set foot into high-crime neighborhoods to get to know the community more. Since he’s been chief, there have been 26 of them.
He also completed 15 anti-violence initiatives, resulting in a total of 24 weapons seized, and 147 arrests made, not including the weapons seized and arrests made outside the initiatives.
Throughout the whole year, Echevarria has found what he loves most.
“Being a police chief isn’t easy, right? You’ve got meetings, you’ve got budget stuff, you’ve got personnel issues, you’ve got the technology we’re using, what we need to be doing, and there’s crime. But I really do enjoy it when I get to get out of the office and am out in the community,” said Echevarria.
Pastor Hightower said he thinks that’s the best part of the chief.
“He’s a part of changing the culture between the police and community relations, that’s for certain,” said Hightower.
Despite all the chief has done, he has more he wants to accomplish.
“In August we will be hiring a police community engagement coordinator, and we’re going to push police engagement to another level that Peoria hasn’t seen,” said Echevarria. He wants to continue partnering with the community in new and innovative ways to reduce crime numbers.
He also plans on strengthening the department, as well. “Inside the department, we want to make sure that our recruitment efforts are strong. We need the best candidates to work for the Peoria Police Department and apply here.”
He even hopes to send out light surveys soon, to find out which neighborhoods need better lighting.
While everything he’s accomplished hasn’t gone unnoticed, he knows he can’t do it all himself.
“He needs our help as the community to come alongside them. He’s not superman, he can’t do it all by himself, he needs us alongside him to help make our community better,” said Hightower.