Peoria filling its police vacancies next year, hiring 30 officers

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The city of Peoria is taking steps to increase its public safety positions.

The city is working to fill all of its police vacancies by hiring 30 officers over the next year.

“We’re allotted 220 officers, that’s what I’m allotted to have right now,” Eric Echevarria, Peoria Police Chief, said. “I’m down to around 198.”

Patrick Urich, city manager, said the funding for these positions will come from the city’s 2022 operational budget.

“We have a lot of retirements, and we held 15 positions vacant last year due to the pandemic,” Urich said.

Echevarria said there are 30 slots that the department has open for next year. He said there are 10 slots for January, 10 slots for May, and 10 slots for November at the Police Training Institute in Champaign, IL.

“We’re pushing forward, we’re looking at our recruiting strategies,” Echevarria said. “We use IO Solutions as our testing, and what we found out from IO Solutions is that now they can proctor the exam virtually.”

He said they’re going to push the information out all over the country in order to have the finest candidates apply to the department.

“We want the best of the best,” Echevarria said. “So we’re going to hit the Division 2 and Division 3 schools, we’re going to push the information out to all of our military transition centers, and we’re going to try to streamline that process.”

Echevarria said he’s seen there’s still a great pool of people interested in pursuing law enforcement. He said he’s noticed many women and minorities are also involved in criminal justice programs.

He said they’re going to be very intentional in their recruitment and go to Historically Black Universities and Hispanic-serving institutions that have criminal justice programs in an effort to reach minority candidates.

He cited the military as an influence for recruitment.

“No matter what’s going on in the world, the military seems to be able to recruit,” Echevarria said. “So we need to tap into what they’ve already recruited for us, and these are men and women who are used to traveling and living somewhere else, and we want to get them to Peoria.”

Echevarria also said there are other things on the horizon, such as the police department looking into an online platform for online reporting.

“There are reports that we don’t necessarily need to come out and take, that the community can just report online,” he said.

He said they’re also looking at redistricting their zones, looking at where they’re pushing their officers, and looking to see if they’re best utilizing their resources.

“Redistricting, taking officers and putting them in a neighborhood services officers position where we have officers that will just respond to [for example] the multi-housing units and our housing authority units to really work more closely with those areas,” Echevarria said.

He also had a message for the Spanish-speaking population.

“Yo le digo a la comunidad Latina que esta afuera, que por favor esta posición de policía es para todo el mundo,” dijo Echevarria. “Necesitamos Latinos, gente que hablen español, gente que se parezcan a nosotros, para que vengan y sean parte de esta departamento de policía. Que es bien importante que haya representación para nuestra comunidad aqui.”

“I’d say to the Latino community, on the outside, that, please, these police positions are for everyone,” Echevarria said. “We need Latinos, people that speak Spanish, people that look like us, for them to come and be a part of this police department. It’s really important that there be representation for our community here.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Latest Local News

More Local News