Over 250 faith leaders call for crisis response center at town hall

WNDU 16 (NBC, South Bend)
May 17, 2021

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) – At one of South Bend’s first and largest gatherings since the pandemic, faith leaders all across Michiana are calling for change.

“We are here because we want to make a difference. We are here because we want to bring forth solutions,” one faith leader said at a town hall hosted by Faith In Indiana Sunday called “We Make The Future”.

Some of those solutions include a unique one that could impact future policing across St. Joseph County.

“For too long, our society has been asking our law enforcement departments to serve as social workers, family counselors, mediators, and substance abuse specialists. This is not their expertise. It’s not fair to the officers, it is not fair to our community, and it could lead to deadly and tragic consequences,” another faith leader said.

Which is why Faith In Indiana is asking county and city officials to dedicate part of President Biden’s recent American Rescue Plan to funding for a local crisis response center.

“We are here to urge our public officials to partner with us, to invest in a crisis response center, to invest in a mobile crisis team. They are better equipped to deal with the mentally ill than the police department,” a faith leader said.

The proposed idea also met the hands of South Bend Mayor James Mueller.

“I’m proud what we’ve been able to accomplish in our community, but to continue making progress, we got to continue bringing more and more people on board,” Muller says.

Like many other city officials, Mueller continues to face public pressure to improve policing across the community.

“They work for us! They work for us!,” a member from the crowd shouted.

Muller responded, “That’s right. They are dedicated public servants. They are dedicated public servants and just as public elected officials, they work as well. But at the same time, we have to come together to figure out how to make the change and make the community we want to see.”

While a decision has not been made on how recent federal funding will be used, Faith In Indiana says it hopes city officials will consider their proposal.

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