BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) – Residents all throughout Blytheville are upset with the crime rate. According to Bishop Randy Crenshaw at God's Holy Temple Church, 12 people were killed in 2010 and three so far in 2011.
Crenshaw said he's working with other local leaders to help trim the violent crime rate. "We're dealing with children coming out of school, getting ready to go into college," said Crenshaw.
Crenshaw is participating in the "Stop Violence" campaign. He is also in support of two other programs offered in Blytheville.
"A lot of times the attitude is not tuned in, which can cause domestic violence and from domestic violence you can possibly commit a murder," said Crenshaw.
Region 8 News talked to members of three programs Thursday, all aimed at stopping violence. Crenshaw said his main goal is to educate people about violence and how to eliminate it.
"I believe in it getting better. I know we have a long way to go. Nothing happens overnight," said Crenshaw. "God has called us to be a voice, a mouthpiece for him. What can we do to come together, to unite, to show that we do care?"
Brenda Sanders, who also attends God's Holy Temple, said the problems have not yet gone away.
"It will take people coming together," said Sanders. "The struggle is from basically life issues. Drugs and alcohol is a learned behavior."
Sanders is a member of the "I Surrender" program. She said it is a 12 step ministry for anyone willing to admit their addiction to drugs, sexual immorality and other things of sinful nature.
"Most always have drug problems or alcohol problems and they're stemming from that situation," said Sanders. "We talk about problems that they're having coping with life issues."
Another group of residents are "Healing in the Hood."
"I was one of the guys that was on the street corners and selling drugs and doing what I thought I had to do to get money," said Chavis Spann, president of the program. "I was involved in the drug part and robbing and I went to prison. I went to prison. I lost 8 years of my life."
Spann is one of several young men in the healing program who have overcome obstacles they faced early in life.
"After so long, I finally wanted a change in my life and I gave my life to God and I hooked up with these guys, which I've known my whole life," said Spann. "I thank God for what he allowed me to go through, because I actually believe if I wouldn't have went through what I went through, I probably wouldn't be standing here today."
Healing in the Hood will host a community wide event Saturday, April 16th. It includes educational seminars, basketball games and other activities to promote non-violence.
For more information on Healing in the Hood, click here.
"I see it getting better. We got a lot to work to do, but as a team, as healing in the hood and as Blytheville as a whole, it's getting better," said Spann. "Most of us, we were leaders and we wanted to have the bigger things in life but we didn't want to go about the right way to get it."
Spann said people who are enduring tough times are more likely to listen to his message than others.
"We are losing so many of us at a young age and then it's the younger age who's pulling the trigger. It's the younger age that's doing the murdering so we have two generations that's either going to the penitentiary or to the grave yard."