PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – The Peoria Police Department says they’re seeing an uptick in gun-related incidents and victims, and authorities explain that the community could help reduce these crimes.
In early May, after a deadly shooting at the Shell gas station on North MacArthur Highway, Pete Thomas the Family Liaison Coordinator for District 150 went to speak to those in the neighborhood.
“I watched many of those kids grow up. So I have a good rapport with them as being students of mine as well as those recreated at the park’s facilities,” Thomas said.
Thomas explains those conversations let kids and adults in the area know that violence isn’t the only answer.
“Still be able to be friends and still be able to deal with conflict resolution without turning to violence,” he said.
Since 2019, Peoria Police say they’ve seen an upward trend of gun violence in the city.
In 2021, there’s been approximately 47 shooting incidents, 54 victims, with 11 murdered with a gun.
“It’s very noticeable, our officers responding, daily, nightly, to shots fired calls,” said Interim Chief Doug Theobald, Peoria Police Department.
Theobald calls gun violence a top priority for his department even as staffing numbers dwindle.
“They’re still seizing guns, they’re still making arrests, they’re still solving homicides,” he said.
He says the community can also play a role, whether it’s through programming or speaking up when they see something.
“The victims themselves sometimes don’t have anything to say to police on a lot of occasions which makes that particular incident, case, investigation very challenging,” Theobald said.
Chief Theobald explains his department has seen a willingness by some to assist, but there’s never too much help.
“We need more help, we need more people to help us with this to resolve the problem as a whole,” Theobald said.
Theobald says PPD has seized around 900 guns since 2019, with 144 of those happening this year.
He encourages owners to make sure their guns are secure, so they do not end up in the wrong hands.