SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Springfield's police commissioner met with several of the city's religious leaders Tuesday night. The common goal - crack down on crime in the city.
Just an hour before the meeting Tuesday night, a man in East Springfield was shot twice in the back. This meeting was planned after 10 shootings-- two of them deadly-- in just a week's time earlier this month.
"Our problems are the same. Our goals are the same," said Springfield Police Commissioner William Fitchet.
Springfieldpolice and clergy filed into the Spring of Hope Church Tuesday night, all of them with their own hope to bring the community back to safety.
"To reduce the violence, to try and help the youth who are involved in the violence. To divert them from some of the violence, and some of the gun and drug problems that are happening in Springfield," Fitchet added.
The Spfld police department lost 31 positions in July, and they have 170 fewer officers than they did 11 years ago. The department hopes this partnership with religious leaders could help them achieve some of their shared goals.
"I don't think there's any substitute for being out there on the street and connecting with the person and praying with them and lending a hand. It has to start there," said Jim Munroe, Dean of the Christ Church Cathedral.
Religious leaders acknowledged they have a connection to the people of Springfield; but it's not the ones who are listening to their sermons that need the attention. They need parents to be on their side too.
"I take my grandchildren to the bus stop, to school, everything. I do a lot with them even though mine are grown. The adults play a major part in their children and in their community, to make it safe for their children," said Springfield parent Tammy Goolsby.
Springfieldis divided into nine sections; religious leaders left tonight with plans to seek out the officers who patrol their local sections and try to get to know them better.