Greenville Police Chief Hassan Aden is launching a new program to fight crime, one he says has proven successful in other parts of the state.
Chief Aden says, "We know we can't arrest our way out of this gang problem. Prevention is the key."
So the Greenville police department is trying something that has been a part of High Point's police force for the past 17 years.
The program in High Point is called focused deterrent policing, and has cut crime by 63%.
In Greenville Chief Aden says the program is called "GROW up," which stands for the Greenville Regional Offender Watch.
Officers and members of the clergy team up to talk with a person identified as a criminal offender to try and steer them away from crime and re-offending, warning the alternative will eventually be jail.
Pastor Rodney Coles of the churches outreach network, gathered local ministers together who will intercede and offer hardened criminals an alternative.
Coles says, "What we all have is love and when they see that love with the police department and the clergy and as we come together to love them, you can love that evil spirit out of them. That's all, it's an evil spirit."
Rector Bob Hudak from St. Paul's Episcopal Church, says the chief's plan is a new innovative approach to crime that the city has never seen.
Hudak says, "His challenge is going to be to really persuade his colleagues in the police department of why this is so important and our challenge , Pastor Coles and others like us, are to mobilize a network within our faith communities to provide opportunities."
Those opportunities would include jobs, educational opportunities and even health care to those willing to change.
Pitt County District Attorney Kimberly Robb says, "I think it's a fantastic idea because we can't keep doing what we're doing. It's clearly not working. We got to try something new."
Robb says Chief Aden brought the plan to her in November of 2013.
She says they, along with federal prosecutors, ATF and the DEA, will partner together to enforce the toughest punishment for those who don't stop committing crimes.
Aden says, "We look at these folks and give them a promise. If you don't stop offending you will likely never see the walls outside of a jail or prison"
The chief says this new strategy will not cost extra funds. He says it's just a re-alignment of priorities and if there are extra expenses, they will look at using federal drug forfeiture funds.
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