‘Walk and Talk’ aims to win over neighbors, and eventually curb deadly violence

Peoria Police meet with neighbors Thursday night.
Peoria Police meet with neighbors Thursday night.(25 News/Heart of Illinois ABC)
Published: Dec. 9, 2021 at 10:40 PM CST
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PEORIA (HEART OF ILLINOIS ABC) - Peoria Police officers, including the city’s top cop, came out for an encore Thursday evening of their “Walk and Talk” campaign to get better ingrained in the community.

The program, while well received, has yet to reduce deadly violence in the city. Since the “Walk and Talks” started, there have been nine more homicides in Peoria, most of them from gunfire.

Chief Eric Echevarria’s idea was to knock on doors, introduce themselves to people, and show them that police are there to help.

From September 30 through November 18, police visited 13 neighborhoods, mainly on the city’s south side. After that, the chief said neighbors reached out to say they wanted more.

“They’re not telling us to stay away. They’re telling us to come back, come over, come see us, come talk to us,” said Echevarria.

“We’re happy to do this, and we’ll be back in the early spring to do the same thing,” he said.

“We’re gonna come out. and we’re gonna do it, and we’re gonna do it full force,” pledged the chief.

Third District City Councilman Tim Riggenbach is happy officers are making the effort to change the narrative on police-community relations.

“Knocking on the door and getting to know people, and letting people know that the police are here even when they don’t need them. I think that’s probably one of the best things,” Riggenbach said.

Officers were also handing out flyers with different resources available, including help with food, shelter, childcare, jobs, and what to do if they suspect a crime.

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