Thursday, April 17, 2008

Taking The Lead In Creating A Safer Community

The Peoria Association Of Pastors has taken the lead in promoting a safer Peoria for all of it's citizens. Not only is the Association engaged in helping address issues of crime and violence at street level, but we are also communicating with law enforcement through regular monthly meetings.
The concept of community interraction and dialogue instigated by citizens and in this case churches, is new to the City Of Peoria, but has already reaped benefits that cannot be measured. Since meetings have begun, the Association has had the opportunity to address issues of community and officer safety, community initiaives to proliferate information in order to combat crime and violence, and open discussions regarding issues of alleged Police brutality.

Although it may be uncomfortable to open the can of worms called "brutality", The Peoria Assn. Of Pastors has done so in a highly professional, non-political and above board manner.

On April 15th 2008 Pastor Harvey Burnett, Assn. Director, held a press conference to address issues and complaints of alleged brutality, many of which were presented to Peoria Police Chief Settingsgaard as early as Jan. 2008 and additionally in a meeting held Monday April 14th 2008 at the Peoria Police Department.

The press conference stemmed from the overarching need to inform the community about citizens current concerns and actions that have been taken both by the police department and the Association in addressing multiple complaints received over time. During the press conference Pastor Burnett stated the following:

"With that said, we certainly DO NOT wish to paint the picture that the Peoria Police Department is out of control or running rampant. In fact we believe that the overwhelming majority of officers protecting our homes and policing our neighborhoods are highly professional, ethical and valuable assets to the community.
However, we also believe that there are instances and times when non-professional behavior has been displayed and has assisted in undermining the public trust that the citizens must have in it’s local law enforcement agency.
We will not specifically name the victims nor the alleged offenders in this press conference. Much information has already been shared with the Police and is currently under review. We have every reason to believe that Peoria Police Chief Settingsgaard, who has embraced the opportunity to dialogue with the Pastors Assn. and the Pastoral community, will do a thorough, complete and fair evaluation of each particular allegation with the utmost integrity.
What we can share, is that based on the information that we have received, tensions have risen in some neighborhoods because of perceived unprofessional policing activities against some of our youth and has caused highly negative sentiments and rebellious actions toward authority.
In addition, there are other highly credible incidents, including one (in which an official complaint has been filed) where a reputable older aged, community member was verbally confronted in an unprofessional manner, tazed at least once from behind, prod-shocked 3 times while laying on the ground and kicked in the face while handcuffed, creating significant bruising and additional medical issues.
In this particular case, there was no drugs or weapons involved, and the person was merely responding, in a non threatening manner, to the arrest of a family member who was "facing the music" for an admitted charge.
This is particularly troubling for a number of reasons. At a grass roots level, this is a time when we are dealing with issues of trust between police and the residents of certain neighborhoods.
Many individuals who could report crime have no confidence due to what they have observed at times. As we have explained to police in great detail, these types of incidents do not foster open communication, and tend to destabilize individuals and neighborhoods emotionally.
It is our aim to foster a heightened awareness of both the problems and solutions to such behavior."

Although this issue is challenging and can be highly subjective, we hold fast to our premise that a safer community takes the committment of both the church, citizens of the community, and governmental agencies that professionally and adequately deliver services without exception. Citizens are the tax paying base on which the city and community exists. It is encumbent upon the leadership of the community at all levels to make it's best effort to accomodate the citizens they serve.

Although we feel that great efforts and strides have been and are being made we realize that there is a long way to go toward making the community better and more safe for ALL of it's citizens.

ANY citizen having experienced police abuse or brutality, and wishing to file a complaint should complete the Peoria Police Citizen Complaint Form and submit it as soon as possible. If any individual is having a problem dealing with the police directly, or simply needs assistance, information or direction, please contact Peoria Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard at (309)494-8334 or the Peoria Assn. Of Pastors at or (877)677-6599.

Peoria Fatherhood Initiative

Mr. David Young the developer of the Peoria Fatherhood Initiative, is seeking Fathers who have children that are currently ward of the State. If you are a father who in interested in pursuing relationship with your child or children please call Mr. Young at (309)636-7803 or email him at
Research has shown that an estimated 24 Million children live in homes without their natural father. There are approximately 1.1 Million children diassociated from their father in the state of Illinois alone. This dissassociation and estrangement from fathers and adequate family units has led to much of the crime and violenc that we currently witness in our metropolitan areas and cities. Please take a stand to address this by becoming involved in solving the problem.

The program is free and provides:
  • Parenting Assistance
  • Information of Father's Legal Rights
  • An Understanding Of Child Support Regulations and Financial Responsibilities
  • Employment Assistance Including Job Readiness and Placement
  • Case Management & Counciling
  • Educational Support Services Including GED and High School Completeion Assistance

Please see the announcement: