Armed only with their Bibles, 500 ministers and lay leaders of religious congregations soon will begin hitting the streets of New Orleans at night to confront drug dealers and other criminals, says the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The campaign, scheduled to start during the July 4th weekend, will focus on hot spots for crime. The Greater New Orleans Coalition of Ministers, which represents 180 churches, developed the project during the past year.
Pastor Antoine Barriere of Household of Faith Family Worship Church International said some of the ministers involved were once on the streets selling drugs themselves, “and now they have become part of the solution.” Participants will try to “get the love of God in (the) hearts” of people they encounter, he said. They also plan to offer practical assistance, such as job training. He acknowledged that the effort could prove dangerous, but said that it is worth doing because local crime already is costing lives. Assistant Superintendent Warren Riley of the New Orleans Police Department said his agency welcomed the help and that officers would be available if ministers encounter trouble on the streets. Riley said the religious leaders would not make arrests or serve as police informants.