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In This Ohio City, the Faith Community, Partnering with Police, Is Key for Positive Race Relations

News Staff : Aug 5, 2020  Frontlines Ohio

"I believe the diversity of our clergy collaboration sends a strong message to the community that no matter what issue or problem there is, we will work together to solve them." -Mansfield Police Chief Keith Porch

(Mansfield, OH) — [] As violence and rioting plague major metropolitan centers across the nation, race relations continue to be tense. According to Mansfield's top cop, he believes law enforcement cannot be a ‘lone ranger' and that the city is ahead of the curve because it has what police dispatchers call "backup." (Image: via Frontlines Ohio)

"No matter what issues a community may face, it is paramount it be addressed with a multifaceted approach to ensure a successful outcome," says Mansfield Police Chief Keith Porch. "It has also been said the police alone cannot solve these issues without partnership with the community."

One partnership Chief Porch is referring to includes a diverse faith community that is willing to engage.

"I have found that the partnership with the local faith community over the years to be extremely beneficial highlighted by numerous initiatives that were successful in making the Mansfield Community a safer place to Live, Work, and Worship. To my knowledge very few communities in the state of Ohio have a working collaboration between black and white faith leaders and we are definitely ahead of the curve."

In the past several years, black and white clergy have partnered together to assist law enforcement in reporting human trafficking, opposing the marijuana industry, and holding a press conference last Fall to recognize "Thank a police officer day" Clergy from over one hundred local congregations participated in the joint statement.

Because of their direct interface with the public, Mayor Timothy Theaker has also had several black and white pastors partner with the police to distribute turkeys during the Thanksgiving season to those in need.

Consequently, this dynamic duo has seen violent crime drop in Mansfield for five consecutive years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and recent social unrest.

"I believe the diversity of our clergy collaboration sends a strong message to the community that no matter what issue or problem there is, we will work together to solve them," says the Police Chief.

A report by the Richland Community Prayer Network (RCPN) on community outreach efforts released during a press conference last year tells the story.

The study was conducted of fifty-eight local congregations and discovered significant local volunteerism with church members visiting the elderly, the hospitalized and the incarcerated, and with litter pickups and maintenance of parks improving of quality of life. The ‘labor of love' by the Bible-based churches also included the donation of their facilities for neighborhood watches, election polls, community health screenings, and blood drives. Concerts, dramas and sports leagues also provided cultural enhancement. (Image: Mansfield Police Chief Keith Porch with Elder Moe Hill /via Frontlines Ohio)

RCPN found that not only did these churches provide valuable support ministries to their local community between the years of 2014-2017, these goodwill ambassadors (churches) also supported missions to an astounding ninety-three multi-cultural nations around the globe. 

It is important to note this generosity to the multi-cultural nations occurred when the area was listed as the seventh most economically-challenged metropolitan region in the nation."

While City Council determines whether or not to support a controversial resolution declaring that systemic racism is rampant across the county, the local faith community does not fit this political narrative and remains an anomaly.

With black faith leaders opposing the resolution, they hope the message gets through to the public: racism is not about skin, it is about sin. Subscribe for free to Breaking Christian News here

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