AP NEWS

Summit planned for Alabama clergy, social service providers

April 21, 2019

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Law enforcement agencies in west Alabama are hosting a summit with the aim of connecting faith-based leaders with social service agencies.

The aim is to provide services to people in need of help, The Tuscaloosa News reported.

More than 300 church leaders have been invited to attend the Faith-based Community Resources Summit on Wednesday.

The summit will cover various resources available in the Tuscaloosa area to connect people with help for such problems as financial difficulty, substance abuse and mental illness.

“We strive mightily to assure Tuscaloosa County is its very best and very safest with traditional locking up the bad guys, but also by thinking in non-traditionally, outside-the-box kinds of ways,” Tuscaloosa County District Attorney Hays Webb said.

“We hope these services can be provided to people before it gets to crisis stage for them, and certainly before it gets to the criminal stage,” he said.

Webb made the comments at a recent news conference as he and others reached out to church leaders and members of the public who wish to attend.

Parishioners struggling with various issues often go to their church leaders, who are “not necessarily armed or equipped to deal with those problems by themselves,” Webb said.

Ultimately, one goal is to reach people before they find themselves entangled in the legal system, authorities said.

“We can find ways to reach someone before they commit and crime and end up in our jail,” Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Ron Abernathy said.

“And this can also be a way to help people once they get out of our facility,” Abernathy said. “Anything we can do to prevent crime in any measure or bring a better quality of life, we need to attempt to do.”

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Information from: The Tuscaloosa News, http://www.tuscaloosanews.com