Gang activity in Peoria is slowly on the rise according to area law enforcement. Peoria police say, the fatal shooting of a teen last weekend occurred during an altercation between two men believed to be involved in gangs.
Authorities are also investigating a gang connection in the Monday night shooting that sent one man to the hospital.
"In the city of Peoria- and I spoke with officer Pat Jordan- he said that we have approximately 20 gangs," said Peoria Police Detective Elizabeth Blair.
Tuesday night, dozens of area residents and students gathered at the University of Illinois Springfield in Peoria for a forum on gang activity.
Detective Blair and Lt. Jason Haynes of Pekin's Federal Correctional Institute in have studied gangs extensively.
"There's a number of them initially that you see that steal cars, they do the retail theft and then they move up to the more violent kinds," said Blair.
Lieutenant Haynes said in the prison system, gangs flourish and spread.
"A lot of times people will come into the prison not being a member of a gang but due to need for protection, they will go ahead and join a gang" said the Lieutenant.
according to Haynes it is in prison that lower level gang members gain more notoriety and come out more dangerous than ever.
He said another issue affecting the Peoria area is gang migration.
"There's been more of a migration from the Chicago area. With some of the closing of the housing units up there, they're spread throughout the state."
Haynes said evidence of new gangs are popping up in the area, especially Latin ones like Maniac Latin Disciples and Surenos.
He said, "we notify all the local agencies whether it be Peoria, Pekin and so forth of any inmates we're releasing that have security threat classification."
But even as law enforcement agencies work together to combat gang violence, Detective Elizabeth Blair says parents and the community need to step up and play an important role.
"Parenting is a profession, it's not something that you take lightly. If you don't take care of your children today, the police will take care of them tomorrow."