Lynchburg Police are hitting the streets in a neighborhood where crime is up, going door-to-door with religious leaders and community activists to make the area safer.
According to police, since the beginning of the year, crime has increased near Cabell and Amherst streets. Offenses include robberies, drug sales and disorderly conduct, according to officials.
But the officers are not just serving as patrols. They’re using community policing, going door-to-door to hear neighbors’ concerns and spread the word about how they can help.
“Some people are more willing to communicate with a clergyman than to a police officer,” said James Camm, pastor at Living Word Ministries. “I think that that is where we play a great, important role.”
Pastor James Camm runs One Community One Voice, one of the groups working with police to put an end to crime.
“A lot of the elderlies are afraid to sit on their porches anymore,” Camm said. “And we’re concerned about our children being able to walk from their home to the store.”
“What the police department really wants to do is be proactive in the community with community building and building that bridge of trust,” said Sgt. Jeffry Rater of the Lynchburg Police Department.
Rater said he believes building trust will help neighbors build confidence so they can help make the area safer.
“Their role is – see what’s going on and call the police and be our eyes and ears,” Rater said. “Because we can’t be in those areas 24/7.”
Change for the better looks promising. Because of community policing efforts and drug enforcement, police said, things are already starting to turn around.
“They have the power to take their community back,” Camm said of the neighbors. “And we’re there with them.”