Strained Police Relations Gets Attention at Neighborhood Discussion

Feb 27, 2017

Residents of Peoria’s South Side offered numerous complaints Sat. about their relationship with police.

The comments came at the first Police Community Relations Committee town hall meeting the Carver Center. The criticism ranged from profiling to feeling intimidated when dealing with police officers. There were also a few suggestions for improvement. One came from Peoria resident Mike Williams.

An recent hiring ad from the Peoria Police Department, which is being pressured by community leaders to actively recruit more minorities to join the police force.
Credit Peoria Police Department

“I think one of the biggest issues is we need more members from the black community policing the black community,” Williams said.

Police Chief Jerry Mitchell told the audience he’s hopeful the police cadet program that encourages young people to learn about policing will result in more officers in the future. Former NAACP president Don Jackson says the city council passed a resolution last year aimed at increasing the number of minorities on the police force.

Residents also say when they file complaints, they aren’t  getting prompt responses. Committee member Lorene King says it appears the attitude is widespread.

“We are not connecting with the people who are in the trenches. They’re frustrated, they’re impatient. They don’t believe in the power structure. They don’t believe in the police department. And we’ve got to change that,” King said. 

The committee has scheduled a town hall for residents of the 61602 and -03 ZIP codes on March 16 at 1pm at the Peoria Public Library's main branch.