Peoria’s “Don’t Shoot” crime-fighting intervention is about saving lives and reducing the number of people impacted by gun crimes. It’s also important to note that when a shooting occurs, it goes beyond the victim—it impacts the community. Crime not only reduces property values, business activity and quality of life, it also affects cities financially. Research shows a single shooting can cost a city up to $1.2 million. It’s time to take a stand now.
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The centerpiece of the program is a focused deterrence strategy enhanced by an innovative community-wide education and outreach program crafted to thoroughly incorporate all segments of the citizenry of the Greater Peoria area. Using offender-based policing strategies, police and prosecutors send a specific message to a number of high-risk individuals that gun violence will not be tolerated. Then the strategy includes communication about community programs that will provide services to help them on the road to a better and more productive life. As part of the message, these high-risk individuals are told that any future gun violence will result in the full force of federal and state law enforcement. They are put on notice and they know law enforcement eyes are on them.
Once the most violent gangs were identified, the FBI focused their Safe Streets Task Force on the most violent gangs in Peoria. The FBI Safe Streets Task Force is composed of agents and officers from the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Peoria Police Department, Peoria County Sheriff’s Department and the Illinois State Police. The work of the Safe Streets Task Force continues against that most violent gang.
With the law enforcement component of the program under way, Mayor Ardis and the task force turned to the community piece of the focused deterrence strategy. A vital element of any successful focused deterrence strategy is the involvement and support of the community. Without community buy-in and support the program will not work.
During the months of August and September, the book will be divided into four segments and each week for four weeks residents and book clubs in the Peoria area will be encouraged to read and discuss a part of the book. As part of the Peoria Reads! “Don’t Shoot” program, Mayor Ardis along with Peoria County State’s Attorney Jerry Brady and U.S. Attorney Jim Lewis, will host a radio show on WCBU-FM 89.9, a public radio station in Peoria. The show will include other panel members, such as Peoria Police Chief Steven Settingsgaard and Peoria County Sheriff Mike McCoy. Each week, the panel will discuss that week’s reading with a local guest and then discuss the same reading with a national guest.
- High Point, N.C.—53 percent decrease in violent crime
- Cincinnati—43 percent reduction in overall homicides
- Lowell, Mass.—28 percent drop in monthly gun violence
- Boston—63 percent less homicides in ages 24 and under
- Indianapolis—34 percent decline in homicides
- Stockton, Calif.—43 percent decrease in gun homicides
A noticeable reduction in gang and gun violence is the main objective of this plan. If Peoria can replicate the success the program has had in other cities—like High Point, N.C., where crime has plummeted by 53 percent—it should see a difference quickly and significantly. But for positive results, there needs to be a community-wide intolerance for gang and gun crime.
- Reporting suspicious activity
- Strengthening ties with police
- Attending neighborhood association meetings and/or joining a Neighborhood Watch group
- Reading David M. Kennedy’s book with family, friends and co-workers, and discussing the goals and objectives of the program
Thanks to the following individuals and businesses for their generous contributions to the “Don’t Shoot” initiative. They’re helping to educate our community and put an end to gun violence in Peoria.