On the evening of Monday, September 13, the Chelsea Collaborative hosted and facilitated a meeting between 16 local Pastors and Chief of Police, Brian Kyes. This meeting was convened specifically to involve local religious leaders in the response to the increase in violence within Chelsea. The Chelsea Collaborative’s Executive Director Gladys Vega said, “We had been handling numerous complaints, calls, and concerns about the recent violence. We called the meeting with City Manager Jay Ash, the Chief of Police and ROCA last week because we wanted to ensure that the community has a place at the table to discuss the problem and possible solutions. We have been working very hard conducting community outreach particularly in the neighborhoods that have been affected. We also included all of the non-profits and religious institutions in our outreach. We convened this meeting with the pastors because we strongly believe that churches and other religious institutions should not only be involved in Thursday’s community meeting but should do their own call for peace among their congregations.”
Collaborative facilitators held out their partnership with the police department as one that the Pastors could use as well. This relationship involves an ongoing working partnership but allows for open dialogue and accountability on important community issues. The Chief gave the pastors an update on the situation in the city, discussed police strategies for dealing with the issues, and presented a comparison of how Chelsea deals with these issues versus other communities. The Chief assured the pastors that that he was present to listen to their ideas and welcomed their suggestions. Discussed at the meeting as possible relationship builders were having police officers visit the various congregations and having the congregations tour the police department to learn more about community policing. A follow up meeting is being planned to continue to develop the relationship. According to Chief Kyes, “The Clergy represent an extremely large group in our diverse community. They are certainly admired and respected allowing their voices to have the ability to reach our youth on a level that is often times difficult for other community stakeholders including law enforcement officials to achieve. Together we can participate in productive positive dialogues that can be formulated into an action plan to address violence in both the short and long run. I am extremely excited about this opportunity to partner with such an influential group of leaders.”
City Manager Jay Ash, the City Council and the Police Department will be hosting a public forum with community leaders and residents to address the increasing problems of violence in our community this Thursday evening, September 16 at 6:00 p.m. at the Chelsea High School Auditorium at 299 Everett Ave.