Mayor Ardis Calls On Peorians To Take Stand Against Violence
PEORIA -- Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis said police and city leaders need the community to help stand up against violence.
On WTVP's At Issue on Thursday, Ardis said the city has a lot of resources focused on fighting crime, such as the ShotSpotter system and the Don’t Shoot program, both of which he said are successful in what they set out to accomplish - helping police respond more quickly to crime and helping steer perceived likely offenders on a better path, respectively.
He also commended the efforts of Peoria Community Against Violence (PCAV). The group often joins police canvassing neighborhoods for information after murders. They also hold P-Town Soup community events regularly.
Ultimately, though, Ardis said there can never be enough police officers to stop “completely random acts of violence," such as the apparent attempted armed robbery that turned deadly for Zarious Fair, 16, on Peoria's East Bluff on Wednesday; or the death of four-year-old Jeremiah Ward, who was caught in the crossfire of a targeted shooting on Peoria's South Side last month.
“The resources and the focus that we put on crime and fighting it are there, and they’re gonna continue, but we need the community to help us. And it’s really sad, that very young people are losing their lives. And we need more help," he said.
Ardis said these incidents are not happening in a vacuum, and community members with information need to step forward.
“We really struggle when these situations happen. As I said, when they happen to these young children, you really, you know, we really have to say what, what is it going to take for the community to really stand up? Because that’s really where we are," Ardis said.
Peoria Police Chief Loren Marion credited the quick arrests of two teenage suspects in the death of Fair earlier this week to community involvement.
But he also said a lack of cooperation from people with information is hindering the month-old investigation into the shooting death of Ward.
Eleven homicides are reported so far in Peoria in 2019, which ties the total number recorded in all of 2017 in the city. 2018 saw 22 homicides, a high water mark not reached in over a decade.