A new officer is coming to town and not just for patrol. Officer Jerry James will be the new resident officer for the East Bluff.
After six years in the position, Officer Hightower is passing on the reigns to a four year Peoria Police veteran, Officer Jerry James, who before joining the force had a strong background in social service work.
"District 150, Children's Home, Center for Prevention of Abuse, so my past work has always been working with people whether it was in the community, or with kids. So when I learned about the resident program I felt like it was a way for me to tap back into those things that I did for 10 years and also allow me to serve as a police officer." said Officer James who is a graduate of Richwoods High School
Started in 2013, there are currently four resident officers. The homes are located strategically across the city.
The homes are located at 520 W. Armstrong Ave., 1839 N. Wisconsin Ave., 220 W. Republic and 1916 W. Kettelle St. There is a fifth home, located at 1011 NE Madison Ave., that is in the process of being renovated.
"What we've seen over time is that the calls for service will actually go up and that's because the citizens are trusting the police officers more so they're calling more and we just build that relationship and it develops from there." said Chief of Peoria Police, Loren Marion
The jobs involves a mixture of patrol, traffic enforcement, public relations, neighborhood cleanup, detective work, and code enforcement.
Councilman Tim Riggenbach said he has seen the real impact, including with a string of vandalism.
"We engaged Officer Hightower at that time and he had some discussions with the kids in the neighborhood and we didn't have any more issues with that at all. When you know somebody you're going to trust them more than if you just see a car drive by. " said Riggenbach, the 3rd District Council Member
Community members who came to meet their new neighbor said it will be a team effort.
"We have to work together. He's not going to be the lone officer walking the street at night just on his own we are all going to be backing him up and be there with him. So that's the positive part of it is having the officer right there accessible." said Steve Fairbanks, an East Bluff resident and East Bluff Community Center Board Member
"We have a job to be there in someones bad situation, a crisis, however in this position you can actually do a lot more and that's the proactive role." said Officer James