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Eric Echevarria Named Next Peoria Police Chief

City of Peoria

The Peoria Police Department has its next chief.

Eric Echevarria will start Aug. 2. He's currently the commander of investigations for the Elgin Police Department, and worked in the Chicago suburb's police force for more than 20 years.

Echevarria said he wants to be a different kind of chief than you might expect. He's bringing his hand-on policing philosophy to Peoria.

"Peoria seems to be primed right now for change," he said. "Looking for something different."

Echevarria said he thinks it's important for patrol officers to get out of their vehicles and interact with citizens. And he also thinks it's important for the chief to get to know people on a more personal level.

That includes replicating a practice from Elgin: rounding up a group of officers and walking door-to-door to introduce themselves and talk to residents, one block at a time.

"It's always easier to deal with someone you know, right? The relationship doesn't have to be confrontational," Echevarria said.

He said he hopes to have public works employees and other city workers tag along for those door-to-door visits, so communities might get help with other issues they're having, like potholes or broken street lights.

"Communicating and engaging the community to better serve them, and find resolutions to issues which may continue to arise," he said. "And then being that catalyst that brings the community together."

Ultimately, Echevarria said cultivating better police-community relationships fosters trust. That will also help police solve more crimes - or prevent them from happening in the first place.

"We can't do it alone," he said.

Echevarria succeeds Loren Marion, who retired in January to take a job at Eureka College. Doug Theobald has served as the interim chief during the city's search for a new leader for the police department.

Echevarria earned a bachelor of arts degree from Northeastern Illinois University and an associate of arts from Benedictine University. He is a Marine veteran.

He also is involved with the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, the Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association, and the Puerto Rican Police Association.

The new chief will make $176,000 a year.

Updated: June 16, 2021 at 2:47 PM CDT
This article was updated with quotes from Echevarria.
Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.