The BIG IDEA
SEPTEMBER’s BIG IDEA
Crime and Violence Prevention
Make every effort to do what leads to peace. – Romans 14:19
As crime continues to pervade many communities across the nation, it is imperative that churches work to cultivate environments where people can feel safe. Third Baptist Church, located in one of the poorest zip codes in Toledo, Ohio, is working to combat crime and violence through its Hotspots Card program.
This 300 member congregation, led by Pastor Kevin Bedford, began to directly address crime in the Toledo area in 2005. It was that year at the church’s Sweetheart Dance that Pastor Bedford noticed many of his elderly members rushing to arrive home by nine o’clock pm. Pastor Bedford inquired about people’s urgency for leaving and discovered that many people were fearful of being out after 9pm because of the increase in gang violence that occurred after dark. He also learned through conversations with other pastors that some churches did not plan programs in the evenings due to people’s fear of being out after dark.
Third Baptist Church, along with Toledoans United for Social Action (TUSA) began distributing Hotspots cards to local residents. The Hotspots cards allow residents to anonymously report crime by faxing or e-mailing the cards to the police. Residents who do not have access to e-mail or fax can call a list of TUSA members who will pick up the cards from their homes and deliver them to the police department. When the police receive these cards, they dispatch officers to patrol the areas from which the cards were received.
The Hotspots Card program has positively impacted the city of Toledo. The community has experienced a decrease in unsolved crimes due to residents’ willingness to report crime. Neighborhood residents have also helped the city crack down on illegal activities that occur in abandoned houses. Speed bumps have been placed in the streets to slow the traffic, and the Toledo Police Department has even opened two precincts in Hotspots areas.
Although addressing the needs of an urban community can seem overwhelming, Pastor Kevin Bedford believes that church leaders “don’t have to stick our heads in the sand.” In a time where many people are intimidated by violence and crime, this mid-size church with a BIG IDEA is helping Toledoans reclaim their streets and build safe communities.
ResourcesIf your church or community is interested in developing a crime or violence prevention program, the following national and community organizations may assist with your project:
Churches with Crime and/or Violence Prevention Ministries: