Montgomery, Alabama, has had a high crime rate this year. There have been 39 counts of murder, making the city the most violent per capita in the U.S. This increase in crime might be explained in-part by a weak economy, high unemployment, poor public transportation, financial cuts to local mental health clinics, and the third highest incarceration rate in the U.S.
Unfortunately, these high incarceration rates are affecting the next generation as children with parents in prison are lacking a positive family influence. Due to this generational cycle, crime rates could continue to climb if effective action isn’t taken.
The Montgomery Police Department is hoping it has a solution to the problem.
The MPD has enacted a publicly funded Christian ministry called Operation Good Shepherd, which will take pastors along with police officers to crime scenes so they can pray and talk with those people involved in the crime or accident.
Corp. David Hicks of the MPD hopes the police and Christians in the community can come together through this program to guide the next generation away from a path of crime by showing them compassion during times of crisis.
This summer, 37 pastors graduated from Operation Good Shepherd. These pastors are all volunteers, not paid for their work, but the MPD does incur administrative costs for the program. There is some concern that opponents will argue an evangelistic Christian ministry funded by taxpayers goes against the First Amendment. However, with funding limited in other rehabilitative programs, the MPD sees Operation Good Shepherd as a a necessary type of program to try.
Montgomery Chief of Police Kevin Murphy says, “… if we can sow some seeds today, we might see the fruits tomorrow.”