Peoria leaders tout 'unprecedented' state investment in public safety resources
State and local officials are touting what they're calling a "historic" amount of resources invested into Peoria public safety in the new state budget.
State Representative Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria) said the fiscal year 2023 Illinois state budget going into effect July 1 will invest more than $40 million in public safety resources into the Peoria community.
Gordon-Booth said that doesn't just include violence prevention dollars.
"Those things can be Band-Aids," she said. "What we really have to do if we want to move people's lives forward, we have to be able to provide people with adequate, safe, affordable housing, but we have to be able to move people's lives forward economically. And that is the path to true public safety."
The money includes seed funding for a behavioral health co-responder pilot program in Peoria, Waukegan, East St. Louis, and Springfield. Social workers will respond to some crime scenes with police officers to assist the victims of crime.
"This new co-response model will better equip our police force in matters of mental health and domestic matters," said Peoria Mayor Rita Ali. "I'm very optimistic that this initiative will better utilize police and social worker resources and ultimately, better serve our community and make a real difference."
$30 million will be used statewide to fund a program to assist State's Attorneys and police departments in relocating witnesses who may endanger themselves if they come forward to report a crime. Another bill funds expressway cameras outside Cook County, and encourages people with Ring doorbell footage of a crime to come forward.
Peoria Police Chief Eric Echevarria said there's a lot of talk about what needs to happen, but the money in the latest state budget is a game-changer.
"With this money that's being invested in the city, we no longer have to imagine what it would look like. But now we can start to implement the changes that we have continued to talk about, and that the city needs," he said.
Other speakers at the event included Peoria County Sheriff Brian Asbell, Peoria County Board member Brandy Bryant, state Senator Dave Koehler, and leaders of various Peoria-area nonprofits and agencies.