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Peoria City Council Approves Violence Prevention Spending


Recently, the Peoria City Council unanimously approved a $1.2 million spending plan with funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). This money was delegated for violence prevention. $500,000 of this will go towards installing lights on private property around “hot spots” designated by the Peoria police, while $700,000 will fund landscaping projects to remove dead brush that blocks light. Regarding the spending plan, Fourth District council member Andre Allen said, “We’ve invested previously in programming and really trying to invest in our citizens to address this issue, and now we’re looking at some environmental ways in order to combat the complex issue that is violence in our community.”

The hope, through this fund, is to not only create safer spaces environmentally but also to foster a positive psychological impact. The Council believes these actions will reduce crime, specifically among repeat offenders. This comes as a response to the increasing crime statistics from 2022 to 2023, with a 13.58% increase in violent and property crime according to a report from the Peoria Police Department. Neighborhood Scout reported a crime rate of 43 per 1,000 residents, and Peoria is widely considered one of the most dangerous cities in Illinois. The City Council is optimistic that this spending plan will help reduce these statistics as the changes are being implemented.

There are concerns, however, that there could have been more effective ways to allocate the funds. Council member Mike Vespa said that the money might have been better spent towards trauma and education programs. “I am a little bit conflicted about this proposal. And it’s not because I don’t believe in environmental design deterring crime,” Vespa said. “But I don’t like getting away from trauma-informed counseling, mentorship, programs like that, that are designed to help people . . . it’s kind of a new concept in terms of anti-violence funding. The city of Philadelphia is doing it right now, they’ve allocated a lot more money than we have. Seventy-five percent of folks in those programs felt safer in the community, 77% improved their situation, 86% were satisfied with the programs.”

Despite this, Vespa voted for the environmental plan, as the two programs do not have to be at odds. With future funds, a trauma-informed program may be the next step in deescalating violence in Peoria. Peoria City Council’s approval of the $1.2 million spending plan shows their effort to tackle violence in the community from different perspectives. While there are differing opinions on how best to use the funds, investing in both environmental improvements and potential future trauma-informed programs reflects a commitment to exploring various strategies for reducing crime.,13%2C857%20offenses%20reported%20in%202022.

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