Danville police to use long arm of the Lord to help reduce crime

Clergy members to start riding along with police officers

DANVILLE, Va. – When crimes occur, getting the community to open up to officers and investigators can be difficult.

That's where clergy members like Schoolfield Baptist Church Pastor David Turbyfill come in.

"If the community can see someone they know ride along with the police, see that presence, I think it would make a big difference and help to build some trust," Turbyfill said.

Danville Police Department Lt. Richard Chivvis has faith that will happen.

"The Norfolk Police Department here in Virginia has clergy patrols. They've been kind enough to share some resources with us," Chivvis said. "I've watched some of the videos, some of the news reports on clergy patrols as well, and they seem to be successful."

Turbyfill said if he were riding along with an officer, his plan would be to try to let people he interacts with know that he's there because he cares about them.

"I want to help them get through whatever the situation may be, even offer to pray with them. Sometimes, that can go a long way. Say, 'Can I just pray with you?' Take a few moments to talk together and share together about what's going on," Turbyfill explained.

As important as the clergy members may be, Chivvis emphasizes that their safety will come first.

"We're not going to put anybody in danger. That's part of our ride-along policy. When something super hot comes out, we've had to ask, 'Please stay here at the gas station, criminal justice student or media, until we go handle this and we'll come back and get you in a few minutes,'" Chivvis explained.

As of Thursday, the police department had reached out to almost 50 religious organizations and invited representatives to an informational meeting on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in City Council chambers at City Hall.

The police department hopes to start using the long arm of the Lord in the next few weeks.

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