Police teams with local churches in community engagement effort

Editor’s note: The series of videos that appeared in the news last year showing police abuse and shootings was deeply troubling and rightly caused many people to reexamine the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve. I came across this story from Snellville of a new initiative to develop a better relationship and understanding between police departments and their communities. The original story worked up by Snellville Public Information Officer Brian Arrington sums up the program pretty good. The link to the Snellville City Website is here. The Gwinnett Daily Post also wrote up the story here. A copy of 1C1P’s program narrative is here: ProgramNarrative

Snellville Police and leaders at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church are partnering to better relations between police and the community in the Metro Atlanta area.

The effort, called One Congregation One Precinct (1C1P), is an initiative of MovementForward, Inc., and works to meet objectives outlined by the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

Snellville Police is among the first to announce a partnership with a local church in the Atlanta area. Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office and the Conyers Police Department have also committed to being a part of the 1C1P initiative. The DeKalb County Police Department and police departments in Stone Mountain, Chamblee, Lithonia, Dunwoody, and Doraville are also signed up to participate in the initiative, according to 1C1P’s documents.

The initiative is a pilot program in Atlanta and seven surrounding counties that include 50 county sheriff’s offices and police departments. Durham, North Carolina and Montgomery, Alabama will also be included in 1C1P later this year. Organizers of 1C1P look to expand to nine other cities next year.

According to the 1C1P mission statement, the initiative is designed to “prevent, combat and solve crimes” by combining the resources of local police departments and faith-based organizations. It also works to “proactively create a direct link between law enforcement executives and community leaders in an effort to avert violent and divisive public responses to police-involved incidents while also giving voice to growing public concerns relative to policing.”

“It’s a great opportunity to expand the partnership we enjoy with our community,” Snellville Police Chief Roy Whitehead said.

This innovative effort is purposed to stem mounting tensions between citizens and law enforcement officers by building partnerships and mutual understandings, as well as establishing a structured framework for the public to assist law enforcement efforts, according to 1C1P documents.

The program has drawn praise from church leaders. St. Matthew’s Episcopal is one of the first 15 sites selected for the 1C1P program in the metro Atlanta area, whose goal is to build partnerships between cops and communities, according to the Rev. Canon Elizabeth Hendrick, rector of St. Matthew’s.

“It is our hope and prayer that the collaborative partnership between the officers of Snellville Police Department and members of St. Matthew’s will result in experiences we can share with the 1C1P coordinators, so that this program can expand beyond the initial 15 sites to every police department and faith congregation who wishes to participate,” Rev. Hendrick said.

Gregory Andrews, who is coordinating the effort at St. Matthew’s said he hopes his church can provide a blueprint for other churches in the city – and world – to follow.

“There’s nothing volatile in Snellville,” he said. “But you must step out and do what you can to prevent bad things from happening.”

For more information on the project visit 1C1P.org.

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