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Peoria police partnering with school resource officers to head off weekend youth disruptions

Tim Shelley
Peoria police will begin working with Peoria Public Schools campus security to curb youth violence and incidents, such as "roving street parties" like the ones held near the Murray Baker Bridge on Water Street.

Peoria Public Schools campus safety officers will begin working with the Peoria Police Department on weekends to enforce curfews and head off youth violence and other incidents.

The Peoria City Council approved an agreement to compensate PPS safety officers at their regular overtime wage rate for working on Fridays and Saturdays, and on special occasions.

The PPS team will report to police rollcalls at 10:45 p.m. They'll target hotspots like downtown, the Northwoods Mall, and Landmark.

Police chief Eric Echevarria says the school safety officers are already familiar with many of the youth and their families.

"This gives them an opportunity to be out there and see it firsthand, and then go back to the school district and provide some of those wraparound districts that they can provide at the school district itself, at the beginning of the week," he said.

PPS director of school safety Demario Boone says getting school resource officers out will allow for more targeted interventions aimed at addressing youth violence at a fundamental level.

"If you stop a fight from happening on a Saturday night, it's gonna probably bleed into a middle school or high school on Monday morning. It turns into a shooting on Tuesday. This is that root cause work. And it's really what the future of policing is," Boone said.

Boone said the model is already working successfully in cities like Orlando and Atlanta.

The police department will pay school resource officers from its budget. Peoria Public Schools will invoice the police department.

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Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.