An emergency meeting was convened in Asheville last Monday, and this is the first I’m hearing about it. Attendees included 18 pastors, Police Chief William Anderson, City Councilman Jan Davis, and new Assistant City Manager Paul Fetherston. The purpose was to end gang violence in public housing. Again, I did not know we had a rash, and the first meeting emphasized issues in Shiloh, a neighborhood of standalone houses that may be occupied with Section 8 assistance, but are not generally considered public housing.

Anyway, the kind of community policing in which sworn and gun-toting officers cut paper dolls with at-risk youth has not made its marks on the hearts and souls of budding criminals. For the last thirty years, program after program has failed to heal feelings of mistrust for the brave men in blue that advocacy groups project onto everybody but white males.

“We gotta stop blaming the police,” [The Reverend Keith] Ogden said. “The community’s not perfect, the police are not perfect. We are all humans. We all make mistakes. But if you’re doing the crime, you’re going to do some time. Don’t blame the man when you get caught selling drugs. Don’t blame the man when you get caught putting your fist upside our beautiful women’s heads. Don’t blame them, get some help.”

So, the new resolve is to get members of the clergy to ride along with cops. The program has a swanky name that I won’t share lest I take somebody’s name in vain.

What do you think? Does it make sense to forbid religious texts in schools but put ministers in cop cars? To me, it is the same as funding an ambulance for the valley instead of investing in a guardrail. Concerns about an official religion, as in, “Come to my Holy Hill Baptist Church and we’ll waive the charges,” aside; people from whatever walk of life, are trying to vanquish senseless violence, and that is courageous and commendable.