There’s been an interesting discussion in the media over the course of the last week or two involving our police chief’s decision to post pictures of people arrested for soliciting prostitutes on the City of Peoria Police Department’s Web site. “Shaming,” as it’s being called, has roused many people on all sides of the issue: posting the pictures versus not posting the pictures versus waiting until there’s a conviction to post the pictures.
I support the decision of Chief Settingsgaard completely. I’ve heard considerable feedback from many residents of neighborhoods throughout the city who are affected by this serious social problem, and they’re overwhelmingly supportive of the effort. Some who live in parts of the city not affected by this crime may not have a good grasp on the extra pressure prostitution adds to what’s probably already a stressed neighborhood.
Typically, areas that experience prostitution aren’t stable in the first place. You won’t see this in areas populated with homes that are primarily owner-occupied. Other crimes usually occur in these areas, including burglary, drug sales, curfew violation, noise, litter, etc. It’s a vicious circle, and the good, hardworking people in these neighborhoods want what we all want: a peaceful, crime-free neighborhood to come home to.
The police department’s plan to post pictures will have a significant impact on those who choose to solicit prostitutes. Not only will there be a dramatic decline of customers very quickly, but you’ll also see a corresponding drop in other crimes in these neighborhoods. All of this at a small cost to the city.
We need to start sounding the message loud and clear that crime doesn’t and won’t play in Peoria. We’re going to take our streets back one at a time, and those who violate the law had better look for another town in which to do business. I have the utmost respect for the opposing views of my fellow council members. This is a decision by our law enforcement professionals, and we need to give it a chance to work. I don’t believe the Peoria City Council wants to micromanage our departments and tell them the best way to do their job. Our police chief made a calculated, educated, informed decision, and I support that decision.
So what does this have to do with InterBusiness Issues? This issue illustrates how many of the problems we’re addressing are related. We won’t be able to successfully grow Peoria residentially or on a business level until these issues are addressed. Small business is the backbone of the economy. No small businesses are going to open or continue to operate in these neighborhoods if they’re not secure. Some of these areas are begging for grocery stores, restaurants, even gas stations—businesses so many of us take for granted. But no one is willing to make that investment until the neighborhood is stabilized. We’re focusing our efforts and will continue to do so. I ask for your support and ideas that will enhance the business environment in Peoria. IBI