PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Community leaders are applauding the Peoria police’s efforts in combating violence in the new year.
This comes after the department’s collaboration, Wednesday, with federal and state agencies leading to an array of arrests, confiscations, and recoveries.
“We said I believe it was last week,” Eric Echevarria, Peoria Police Chief, said. “We would use every available law enforcement tool that we would have at our disposal, and here it is.”
Echevarria said the department joined forces with the Illinois State Police (ISP), United States Marshals Service, members of the Peoria Police Department Criminal Investigations Division, Patrol Operations, and the Special Investigations Division.
He said highlights from the entire day of work included more the 50 vehicle stops, 20 arrests, two stolen vehicles recovered, and two illegally possessed handguns seized.
Marvin Hightower, president of Peoria’s NAACP branch, said the success of Wednesday was a good step toward reducing crime in the city.
“It’s a great start to make an impact on the violence in our city,” Hightower said. “Doing the same things would not have had the same impact as what was done this time.”
“There have been many messages in 2021 about stopping the violence and this delivered on a promise that was made,” Hightower said.
It was a promise to go after those who are terrorizing the city. It’s also in line with the police department’s Anti-Violence Initiative 2022.
Hightower said it’s important that Chief Echevarria continue down this path of collaborations and use data-driven evidence to identify hotspots in the city. He said the next step should be the State’s Attorney working with the police department to enforce the arrests that are made.
“It sends the wrong message to arrest someone, and then they’ll be out the next day or the next couple of days or a slap on the wrist,” Hightower said. “Now the State’s Attorney’s Office in conjunction with the Peoria Police Department have to work together to address this problem.”
He also said this has to be a repeated effort in order to keep the no-tolerance message loud and clear. Becky Rossman, CEO of Peoria Community Against Violence, also commended the police’s job.
“At Peoria Community Against Violence, we applaud any effort to reduce the violence in Peoria,” Rossman said. “It’s great to get the illegal firearms off the streets.”
“Not only do we applaud the efforts, we’re happy to see that they were successful for the first five days in January,” Rossman said.
Rossman also said PCAV works with the victims of violence in the city, and they’re still trying to help those who were shooting victims in 2021. They’ve gotten around to about 32% of the victims due to the high volume.
She said PCAV offers a variety of services, ranging from case management referrals to monetary.
“We’ve done help with rental assistance, employment, GEDs, and just a variety of community network resources,” Rossman said.
Rossman is encouraging anyone who’s been a victim, or who’s loved-one have been victims, of gun violence to reach out to the organization.
Echevarria also said, although the department had a successful night, this is by no means the end.