Sunday shooting prompts Streator to buy license plate readers, increase patrols

Mayor also says city is moving forward on a nuisance abatement of a property

The Streator City Council (left to right) Timothy Geary, David Reed, Mayor Tara Bedei, Matt McMullen and David "Moose" Conner met Wednesday, June 21, 2023, and set a future special meeting to approve purchase of license plate reader cameras.

Three days after the fourth shooting in Streator since April, the Streator City Council set plans in motion Wednesday to buy license plate reader cameras at the entrance points of the city and move forward on a nuisance abatement complaint of a rental property not far from Sunday’s shooting.

Streator Mayor Tara Bedei said Illinois State Police and La Salle County Sheriff’s Office agreed to help increase patrols Friday and Saturday nights.

Bedei also updated the public on the state of the city’s surveillance camera system, the police department’s practice of regularly checking taverns and the hiring of two new officers to the department.

The council also heard from two residents and a tavern owner during Wednesday’s meeting in regard to the recent violence.

The council scheduled a special meeting for 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 27, to approve purchase of the license plate reader cameras. Bedei said these devices will be able to read the license plates of vehicles coming and going from high-traffic areas of the city, as well as determine vehicles coming and going based on their make/model and color.

“These cameras helped us arrest two suspects May 6 in Memphis, Tennessee,” Bedei said of the cameras used among other communities, including Ottawa.

The mayor also said the city is pursuing action to declare the rental property at 121 W. Hickory St. a public nuisance. A search warrant was carried out Sunday at the property, after people were seen on video fleeing into the house, said Police Chief John Franklin. No arrests were made as a result, he said. According to the city’s ordinances, it can declare a public nuisance property where three or more offenses, outlined specifically in the city’s ordinance, have occurred within a year. Bedei said the city’s attorney is trying to get the property within compliance and moving the matter through the court system, but she indicated Wednesday the process may take time if the property owner challenges it. A nuisance abatement can remove the property owner from use of the property, or fine them, according to the ordinance.

“I would to remind those who are landlords in Streator that background checks can and should be completed before renting,” Bedei said. “With the consent of the potential tenant, this request can go through a service. The police department also can help you.”

Bedei thanked the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office and the Illinois State Police for accepting Streator’s request for more patrols on Fridays and Saturdays. The mayor said Streator police conduct regular checks of taverns on weekends, and conducted one at the nearby tavern where the victim fled. Bedei said the tavern was found not to have any issues. The tavern owner, Angel Vasquez, told the council in public comment Wednesday he keeps order inside his business and would be willing to speak with the city if there’s anything he should be doing to improve the situation. Bedei said she would like to meet with Vasquez, and he agreed.

The mayor said Wednesday the city has 16 surveillance cameras throughout the downtown. She said the city has been working with two companies on cameras in need of maintenance.

Streator resident Natasha Pflibsen told the council she would like to see better enforcement of the city’s codes, including residents’ property maintenance. She also said she would like to see stricter patrols of parks.

“I don’t let my kids play at our parks,” she said.

Streator resident Corina Hardin said she is afraid of her daughter being home alone in the neighborhood where two shootings have occurred since May 6. Sunday’s shooting was the second one near the intersection of West Hickory and North Bloomington streets – the first one resulted in a death and two arrests. She said she would like to see patrols increased seven days a week, not just Fridays and Saturdays.