This might be the case next year if Peoria's 2013 municipal budget is approved. The city wants to designate up to three officers to live full-time in the city's dangerous neighborhoods.
Peoria police chief Steve Settingsgaard said he would like to see one officer in the West Bluff, one in the East Bluff and one in the South Side. According to Settingsgaard, the city would pay for them to live in rent-free housing. Existing houses would be renovated, and the officers would work from home. The officers would not be paid extra for the job, and would keep their normal salary.
Also, Settingsgaard said the city will advertise neighborhood officers. The officers' names and contact information would be placed on signs in their yards. He doesn't expect officer safety to be an larger issue than usual.
"I don't think that's an overriding concern. I think what's going to happen is an officer is going to go into one of those neighborhoods and they're going to be very well received by the community, and I think they'll be welcomed with open arms," he said.
South Side resident Walter Howard said he's lived there for 44 years and Police presence could be stepped up a little.
"I call them on occasion for minor stuff, but they got a very slow response, especially at night," Howard said.
He said he'd like it if an officer lived near by, that "it would make it safer."
Gloria Brown is a parent and said a few more cops would ease her mind.
"I worry for my children, when I'm inside they're inside. When I'm outside they're outside. I wouldn't let my kids just hang out because we never know who's going to be lurking in the neighborhood," Brown said.
Brown said she thinks a cop on the block would make people people think twice about breaking the law, something she thinks about often.
"I would sleep better at night, you know. I had to go out and get an alarm system for my home, because I was afraid of the crime," Brown said.
She said she wouldn't mind if an officer lived on her block.
"He could move right next door!"
Howard said he's not convinced it would solve all the area's problems, but thinks it's a step in the right direction.
"It's going to take a lot more stuff than just have police officers in the area to stop some of this, but it's a start and we have to start somewhere.
Many residents WMBD 31 News talked to had a good response to the idea. They were just interested to see how it would work in practice.
According to Settingsgaard, the officers would likely accept a two to three year commitment. Their families could also live within the homes.
However, the police chief admitted concerns about getting officers to volunteer and finding the right people for the job.
"Not every police officer will be cut out for that kind of job. I need an officer who has a lot of energy, who's self motivated, who really wants to be a part of the community,"