‘Faith & Blue’ police-community outreach events planned for October

The initiative focuses on conversations and events aimed at finding tangible solutions to reduce crime, while also supporting law enforcement.
Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 5:30 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - National Faith & Blue Weekend, one of the largest police-community outreach events across the country, is returning for the third year.

From rural to metro, county to city, law enforcement agencies across North Georgia gathered on Wednesday for a press conference to announce Faith & Blue Weekend will take place Oct. 7-10.

Rev. Markel Hutchins is the visionary behind the outreach initiative that focuses on conversations and events aimed at finding tangible solutions to reduce crime, while also supporting law enforcement.

“The escalation of crime and violence is totally unacceptable,” Hutchins said. “We only progress when we have the courage to turn to each other to sit together and reason together.”

Hutchins started Faith & Blue around the time of the social justice protests of 2020. Years later, he said he’s now more concerned about his 15-year-old son being shot by someone who looks like him rather than by police.

“My mother and I had a conversation about crime and violence last night and she said to me, she’s more afraid of going to the Walmart now than she was going to the corner store when the Ku Klux Klan was marching through the streets of Stone Mountain,” he said.

Faith & Blue is a collaboration between police agencies and churches meant to foster better relationships and reconciliation. They host several town halls, unity walks, picnics, and other activities during the scheduled weekend.

“It’s important for us to be able to sit down with members of our community and not yell, not argue, but sit down and talk to one another and understand what everyone’s needs are,” said Gwinnett County Police Deputy Chief Jesse Jones.

“What affects one surely is going to affect another,” DeKalb County Sheriff Melody Maddox added. “This is not a one-man, one-woman show, and we cannot do it alone here.”

Agencies like Cobb County and DeKalb County Sheriff’s offices have used the events to create meaningful relationships to better meet the needs of those wanting to better their lives.

“We can help find these young men and women jobs so they can find some fruitful things to do in life versus turning to crime,” said Cobb County Sheriff Craig Owens.

“When we do need help with maybe finding someplace for someone who needs some food or some resources, we can sometimes call our faith-based organizations because we have that comfort, we have that contact,” DeKalb County Police Chief Mirtha Ramos.

Hutchins said Faith & Blue is about getting to know people more on a human level. It’s a community engagement initiative intended to change how the public sees and interacts with law enforcement to ensure a safer community for all.

“We cannot continue to ask law enforcement, prosecutors, federal agencies to do this by themselves,” Hutchins said. “They need us, and God knows our communities need them.”

For a list of Faith & Blue events happening in your community, click here.