It's a program that's new to Peoria. An officer will move into a neighborhood and fully dedicate himself to improving it. Chief Steve Settingsgaard said, "Ideally, an officer after a number of years will be able to help build up the neighborhood to the point that he really kind of works himself out of a job and he's no longer needed there."
The University East Neighborhood is the first on the list. It's an area that's slowly started to go by the wayside. Settingsgaard said, "We've got a mixture in there of people who are fighting for the neighborhood and we have some problem houses. We have drug houses in there, we've had several problem properties along Columbia Terrace."
The first Resident Officer will be Ryan Winkle. He said, "It's going to be a 24/7 job. People are going to be able to knock on my door at two in the morning and that's part of the job and that's what I signed up for."
Officer Winkle said it's an opportunity for the department to be proactive and able to get ahead of issues before they become problems. He said, "There's a few nuisance properties here and there and I think if we deal with those and take care of those problems we can help that neighborhood out immensely."
For Peoria, it's a starting point. If it all goes well, Chief Settingsgaard said he'd love to see the program expand. He said, "If money could be found in the future, I could see this expanding to more, and certainly we have more neighborhoods that could use this."
Officer Winkle is set to move to his new home in May. The city has budgeted for two more officers just like him. No official word on where they will be.