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Safety Net meeting highlights violence prevention grants, Cure Violence progress

Peoria Police Chief Eric Echevarria August Safety Net Agency.jpg
Collin Schopp
Peoria Police Chief Eric Echevarria breaks down crime statistics at August's Safety Network meeting.

The August meeting of the Peoria Safety Network featured new crime data from the Peoria Police Department, an update on a proposed Cure Violence assessment, and two new sources of potential funding for local violence prevention programs.

The first funding opportunity is a pool of $700,000 of American Rescue Plan dollars from the City of Peoria. Applications for a minimum of $50,000 and maximum of $250,000 will be available Monday, Aug. 15 and close on Friday, Sep. 9.

Applicants must be a non-profit, public charity or government entity.

Community Development Director Joe Dulin said the applications will be available on the police department and city development pages of the city website.

The second potential source of funding for violence prevention programs is up to $500,000 from the Illinois Department of Human Services. Those applications are open now and close Sep. 16.

Peoria is one of 16 areas outside of Chicago eligible to apply for the grant. Mayor Rita Ali is encouraging organizations to apply together.

“We have organizations that are talking, it got really noisy in this room after the meeting,” said Ali. “We need to bring this money to Peoria because it’s resources to help reduce crime in our community.”

Public Health Administrator Monica Hendrickson provided an update on a proposed assessment from the organization Cure Violence, which the City-County Health Department is pursuing a contract with after the city council decided not to fund it.

“As an evidence-based practice that wants to make sure their program is implemented effectively, they would like to come to town and actually have a one-on-one discussion with some of our key partners to understand kind of, where it went sideways, to be honest,” said Hendrickson. “And how ready Peoria is to be able to adopt this program and take it forward.”

Representatives of Cure Violence are expected to be in the Peoria area to conduct the interviews in two weeks.

The Peoria Police Department also shared some updated crime statistics with the community leaders who were present.

According to Assistant Police Chief Brad Dixon, there have been more than 100 fewer rounds fired, 25% fewer murders and 33% fewer shootings than at this time in 2021. He did note that motor vehicle thefts were rising this month and the department is looking into possible initiatives.

The department also shared a map that plots out violent crime in the first six months of 2022, pointing out hot spots in the East Bluff, South Side and Lexington Hills areas. Police Chief Eric Echevarria said the data helps the department identify how to support communities, as well as enforce the laws there.

Peoria Police Department January 1st, 2022 to June 1st 2022 Violent Crime Map
Collin Schopp
Peoria Police Department Violent Crime Map for Jan. 1 to June 1 2022

“I think what a lot of the things that we may be seeing at times is if we don’t show that we care in the city, they don’t feel that the city cares to repair and fix and come into these areas, then why should they care,” said Echevarria. “We can start lighting up the areas, areas where the street needs to be repaired, and within that week, get some tar in there, have Ameren fix the light bulb in the alley that needs to be fixed, etc. So we really want to start focusing on that.”

The next Safety Network meeting will be Friday, Sep. 9.

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Collin Schopp is a reporter at WCBU. He joined the station in 2022.