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Police, pastors and parishioners come together for Faith & Blue Weekend

Posted at 5:16 PM, Oct 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-10 19:48:55-04

MILWAUKEE — Mt. Lebanon Lutheran church sits at a dangerous intersection.

This summer two young men died on the lawn of the church, killed by a man who was drag racing down Hampton Avenue.

Church Pastor Paul Krueger often hears from his neighbors about Milwaukee's reckless driving problem, a constant concern near Hampton and 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 all of us pitch in together. All us of together come in as a community and we take ownership of the neighborhoods where we live," said Krueger.

The event — an initiative aimed at fostering relationships between the police and communities through local faith-based organizations — fanned out across Milwaukee on Saturday and Sunday.

Around a dozen churches hosted police, where officers shared information about community events, emergency contact information for various districts and tips on burglary prevention and reporting suspicious activity.

But mainly, the gatherings provided people in neighborhoods across the city the chance to chat with the officers they may see around their homes, schools and places of work.

The cooperation-building weekend comes during a very violent year in Milwaukee.

Violent crimes are up ten percent to date compared to 2020. Not-fatal shootings are up 27 percent. Murders and carjackings have also increased across the city.

"We understand that dealing with the crime in the city is a team approach," said Acting Police Chief Jeffrey Norman. "We have to have community engagement, understand that our residents are our information."

And the residents in many neighborhoods trust their faith leaders — hence the attempt at growing ties with police.

Marty Calderon is the lead pastor at God Touch MKE near Lincoln and Windlake. He says many people are afraid to go to the police.

"We're the ones they're going to meet halfway and tell us, you know what, this is happening, we need help. and we'll go to talk to the police for them," said Calderon.

He said he's even had men with outstanding warrants come to him. Then, Calderon makes the call, and the police come to arrest those men. They do it together.

"They felt safer that way," said Calderon.

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