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Public Safety

Eric Echevarria Sworn In As Next Peoria Police Chief

Eric Echevarria
Tim Shelley
Eric Echevarria is sworn in as Peoria's next police chief during a brief ceremony at Peoria City Hall on July 30, 2021.

Peoria's new police chief is officially on the job.

Eric Echevarria was sworn in during a ceremony Friday in the Peoria City Council chamber.

He comes to Peoria from the Elgin Police Department. He said in many ways, Peoria and Elgin aren't really that different. He said building better relationships between the Peoria police and community is key, and he thinks Peoria is primed for that, just as Elgin was.

"We can't just punch in, punch out, sit behind a desk and think we are building relationships," he said. "We gotta be out in the community. These neighborhood cleanups, these other things that are happening. I was in a meeting this morning with the mayor and a group of stakeholders. And it's really just working with these stakeholders."

City Manager Patrick Urich said Echevarria was easily the top pick among the 22 applicants.

"We were focused on community engagement," Urich said. "We were really focused on engaging the community in new and exciting ways."

Urich cited the chief's work in Elgin with helping to inspire Peoria's resident officer program.

Echevarria said the importance of police-community relationship building was driven home last year in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, adding Elgin was able to avoid rioting and violence seen elsewhere, including in cities like Peoria.

"We were able to walk out in the protests. We were able to be there. The chief, the deputy chief, officers, everybody. Because of relationships," he said.

He also said it's important for cities like Peoria to engage with young people and have constructive things for them to do.

"We have to find avenues for these kids to have outlets, rather than just being in the block, hanging around. Finding things for them to do. Being engaged with them," he said.

Echevarria said he hopes police can build relationships with youth strong enough that they feel comfortable talking to officers about problems instead of taking matters into their own hands.

The chief said he plans to spend his first days on the job as an observer, getting to know his officers and the community.

"It's not coming in with an iron fist. It's coming in, seeing what's going on, and then taking a look at what we can improve," he said.

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