PINE BLUFF, Ark. (KTHV) - Community and faith leaders came together in Pine Bluff on Thursday, Aug. 9, to discuss solutions to a problem that's plagued them for years: violent crime.
In the week leading up to that meeting, Pine Bluff police worked three homicides and a deadly officer-involved shooting.
"If something's going to keep me up at night, it's the violent crime in our community," Pine Bluff Police Chief Kelvin Sergeant said.
Chief Sergeant joined with other city leaders and clergy to hear from leaders of the TenPoint Coalition. The organization based in Indianapolis, Indiana takes a "boots on the ground" approach to battle violence in crime-ridden neighborhoods. It also promotes employment and education in order to prevent crime.
"We're always looking for ways to combat the violent crime in our community. That's why we're so interested in this initiative," Chief Sergeant said.
The TenPoint Coalition achieves its mission by bringing together clergy, law enforcement, and private businesses. By targeting crime-ridden neighborhoods, "faith patrol" teams work to engage with those most likely to become involved in violent crime and homicides.
“The gospel is no good if I’m just between the four walls and don’t take the gospel to the streets,” said Pastor Terry Webster, a TenPoint Coalition board member.
Webster traveled from Indianapolis for Thursday’s meeting. He said a once crime-ridden neighborhood in that city has gone more than 1,000 days without a youth homicide. He credits that, in large part, to the efforts of TenPoint.
“The ten point coalition is a model that offers hope,” Webster said. “If we work together to stamp out violence, we’re not going to stamp out all violence but we can reduce violence,” he said.
Pine Bluff Mayor Shirley Washington told meeting attendees she supports enactment of the program in Pine Bluff. A series of follow-up meetings, training and volunteer recruitment must precede its launch.
Click here to learn more about TenPoint Coalition and its impact in Indianapolis.