PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – New resources and investments are on their way to Peoria and surrounding communities to reduce crime.
Monday, surrounded by dozens of Peoria-area leaders, State Representative Jehan Gordon-Booth (92nd District-D) highlighted a series of bills and initiatives designed to improve public safety, beginning July 1.
“We know all too well that there is a clear mandate to make strategic investments in the area of law enforcement, and when I say law enforcement and public safety, that doesn’t just mean police,” Gordon-Booth said.
Among the bills passed during the most recent legislative session is House Bill 4736.
It will create a Co-Responder Pilot Program in Peoria, East Saint Louis, Springfield, and Waukegan. The legislation allows social workers to work alongside police in some instances, with a focus on mental and behavioral health.
“By creating a program of social workers and other responders to help the true root causes of these individuals, would prevent them from that type of incarceration,” said Sheriff Brian Asbell, Peoria County Sheriff’s Office.
It also provides $30 million dollars in funding to provide financial aid to witnesses or victims of a crime, if they must relocate.
“They need to be put in an environment where if they were to come forward they would not fear for their lives or potentially the lives of their children,” Gordon-Booth said.
Representative Gordon-Booth said more than $40 million dollars in investment will go to Peoria and various community organizations, with the goal of reducing crime by bettering lives.
“We have to be able to move people’s lives forward economically and that is the path to true public safety,” Gordon-Booth said.
Peoria Police Chief Eric Echevarria said the investments will make better public safety a step closer to reality.
“We no longer have to imagine what it will look like, but now we can start to implement the changes we’ve continued to talk about and that the city needs,” Echevarria said.
Other bills addressed on Monday include House Bill 1571 which will allow the Department of Human Services to start a child care program for first responders and other off-hours workers.
House Bill 1103 will expand the state’s expressway camera act, including areas such as Peoria.