A faith-based initiative in Indianapolis called Indy Ten Point has had some remarkable success in reducing violent crime and drug use in targeted areas of the city. Now some faith leaders in Columbus hope to use the Ten Point program as a model for a similar effort here.
Pastor Johny Amos of Shiloh Christian Center on East Broad St is spearheading the effort. “If we can impact our community by being visible and staying constantly visible in the community, I believe it will bring about a change in relationships,” Amos told NBC4.
Amos and a handful of other faith leaders met with Rev. Charles Harrison of Indy Ten Point Tuesday to discuss ways of setting up a program in Columbus.
Under the Ten Point plan, small teams of people walk through targeted neighborhoods several nights a week. The teams include former gang members as well as members of the faith community.
The goal is to build relationships with at-risk youth, to mediate disputes, and to help young people find jobs or encourage them to stay in schools.
Harrison says the effort has helped curb the murder rate and drug activity in those specific neighborhoods they’ve targeted.
The Indiana Attorney General’s Office recently committed $500,000 to expand the Ten Point model to other cities in Indiana.
Shelley Crozier-Fleming is part of a newly formed Apostolic Network of churches in Columbus. She will be helping Amos set up the program. “We heard the mayor’s clarion call for help from the faith community it’s and took that very seriously and together we wanted to do something,” Crozier-Fleming said.
The plan resonates with Amos because he says, he was a gang member in his teens.
“We can say, ‘Hey, we’ve been where you’re at when we were 17 and 18’,” Amos said. “I remember when I was 18 I was in a gang. We were involved in that and that’s not the solution.”
Amos said the Columbus plan will focus on saving youth from violence and creating trade school options and job opportunities. He said he will be reaching out to other churches, business owners and other community partners in the days and weeks ahead.
Crozier-Fleming said the time is right. “The only thing we need to do is come together and make a decision that we are going to do this as a community of faith.”