George W. Bush's visit to Peoria was a learning experience on many levels. It was fascinating and humbling to observe the Secret Service at work protecting the leader of the free world. Notice this gal in the pic. She was a secret service agent that stood about 10 feet from the President as he made his speech. She watched our e-v-e-r-y move. It was quite unsettling to say the least and sure as sh** all 100 pounds of her would have blown us to bits in a heartbeat if we had lurched suddenly in the wrong direction.
Contrast that to the City of Peoria Police presence at downtown events. I have been to numerous of them throughout the summer. The latest event was last night at the Cefcu Center Stage. There was a fairly large crowd of several hundred people enjoying the music of "The Boat Drunks". It appeared there were 3 or 4 officers present. They are always easy to spot - just look for a shiny blue cluster of law enforcement all standing together and enjoying some friendly conversation. Now please don't get me wrong. I have the utmost respect for Police officers. My baby brother is a copper (used affectionately), my beloved Sister-in-law who just answered the call of Our Lord was a cop, and my hubby was a cop many years ago. Police Officers kiss their spouses and babies good bye in the morning and more than once it crosses their mind if they will ever see them again. I love these guys and gals and know they work selflessly so our babies can safely lay their heads down at night.
I'm just saying that if trouble was afoot, based upon the PPD protocol that I have observed numerous times at a variety of Riverfront events, the officers would be hard pressed to notice anything until there were some plentiful blood and guts. Granted I'm no Chief of Police, but I think the PPD is missing the boat big time on police procedure at large downtown gatherings. Our men in blue should be stationed at all entrances and exits. They should be spread out, annoyingly visible, and not be permitted to socialize. They should be vigilant, watchful, observant... predicting bad behavior before it happens. A police presence of this nature and involving just a few officers would, in my laymen's opinion, be more effective in deterring crime than 20 of them all in a shiny blue cluster.
Police Chief Settingsgard has spoken often of the importance of perception, and managing the little infractions to help deter the larger. He feels that this attitude has helped improve our overall crime stats. So given that, I'm sure he'll get my drift. No offense, I just want to feel safe taking my kids down to the riverfront again. I want someone like the chick above keeping an eye on things. Guaranteed my kids are as important to me as the U.S. President is to her!