Public Safety Director asks churches to do more for crime prevention

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Public safety leaders are calling on local churches, asking for more help fighting crime in the city.

Some pastors say they're already doing a lot. They're out in the streets and inside sanctuaries with prayer and programs to help stop the violence that's gripped our city.

Still, Public Safety Director Troy Riggs said more is needed.

"I am not putting blame," he explained. "I'm not doing anything other than making a request to churches in our community to step up and help in a greater way."

Riggs cited an example. He said when he was going out raising money for this summer's jobs program for teens, the churches he approached chose not to donate.

"The money came from businesses. The money came from Department of Public Safety funds that we pulled out, some money that we have saved."

But pastors said that was only a portion of the funding and that many churches did contribute and helped to expand the jobs program this year.

"We were working with about $80,000+ this year," said Pastor James Jackson of Fervent Prayer Church.

Pastor Jackson also said the religious community has been fighting crime and its root causes right alongside city leaders.

"Personally, I know of a lot of churches who are serving the community, at-risk youth, transitional housing for women."

Director Riggs was quick to point out many churches are doing a lot with money, with outreach and with neighbors in need, but he said with violence prevention needed more than ever, more churches - on all sides of town - need to step up, too.

"And if someone finds that offensive, I am sorry but our communities and major social change began in the church," Riggs said.

"We all must do more," said Pastor Jackson. "This is a multi-year, multi-million dollar issue. We didn't get here in two years and we're not going to get out of it in two years."

The bottom line from both Public Safety and the church community: violence is not a problem that can be solved by one organization; it will take a lot of resources from a lot of people, so right now, Director Riggs is asking everyone to help even more.