MILWAUKEE – The Lutheran Church on Mount Lebanon stands at a dangerous intersection.
This summer, two young men died on the church lawn, killed by a man racing on Hampton Avenue.
Church pastor Paul Krueger often hears his neighbors talking about Milwaukee’s reckless driving problem, a constant concern near Hampton and the 60th.
Police visited his church again on Saturday, not in response to a crime, but to work together, as part of National Faith & Blue Weekend.
“The answer is that we are all mobilizing together. We all form a community and we take ownership of the neighborhoods in which we live, ”said Krueger.
The event – an initiative to foster police-community relations through local faith-based organizations – took place in Milwaukee on Saturday and Sunday.
A dozen churches hosted the police, where officers shared information on community events, emergency contact details for various districts, and advice on preventing burglaries and reporting suspicious activity.
But mainly, the rallies allowed residents of city neighborhoods to chat with officers they can see around their homes, schools and workplaces.
The Cooperation Building Weekend comes during a very violent year in Milwaukee.
Violent crime has increased by 10% to date compared to 2020. Non-fatal shootings have increased by 27%. Murders and carjackings have also increased across the city.
“We understand that tackling crime in the city is a team approach,” said Acting Police Chief Jeffrey Norman. “We need to have community engagement, understand that our residents are our information.”
And the inhabitants of many neighborhoods trust their religious leaders, hence the attempt to develop links with the police.
Marty Calderon is the senior pastor of God Touch MKE near Lincoln and Windlake. He says a lot of people are afraid to go to the police.
“This is us that they’re going to meet halfway through and tell us, you know what, this is going on, we need help. And we’ll go talk to the police for them,” Calderon said.
He said he even brought in men with outstanding warrants. Then Calderon makes the call and the police come to arrest these men. They do it together.
“They felt more secure that way,” Calderon said.
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