WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.-- Violent crimes are up in West Palm Beach but police have a new strategy to reduce it. It’s called Rebuilding Every Community Around Peace or R.E.C.A.P. and it involves area faith leaders.
First introduced in Las Vegas, and initiated by a clergyman, the program would allow faith leaders to respond with police to the scene of criminal activity to prevent retaliation. Faith leaders would also counsel members of the victim’s family. West Palm Beach Police Chief Sarah J. Mooney believes it will lead to a reduction in street crime.
“The idea of R.E.C.A.P is to prevent it from happening in the first place, and or if something does happen – immediately flooding that community where the incident occurred to try to prevent any kind of retaliation shootings to actions by people that might know more about the incident than they’re sharing with police,” said Mooney.
The initiative has already gotten approval from Kevin Jones, the assistant pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church and coordinator of Community Initiatives for the West Palm Beach Mayor’s Office. Jones was instrumental in the start of the Mayor’s Village Initiative which focused on violent-related deaths in the north end of the city.
“R.E.C.A.P. is about serving as an intermediary between the community and the police to provide spiritual care, presence and resources,” Jones said. “Being a clergyman and also working with the city I’ve seen first-hand a lot of times there’s an uptick in violence because it’s retaliatory. Our goal with R.E.C.A.P. is to intervene early so that we can prevent that.”
The initiative is still in the planning phase. The department hopes to start training officers, faith leaders and other community leaders interested in the program before the start of summer.