April 13, 2017: Adventist leaders in Etobicoke, a suburban district of western Toronto, Canada, are supporting a strategy that brings faith leaders and police together in ways that impact their communities positively.
The strategy was profiled in an April 11 report on the InsideToronto news site.
The core concept behind the Etobicoke Strategy is to communicate to residents that police are not the enemy and faith leaders are not the police.
To share the message, Adventists leaders and other faith leaders join forces with police for events designed to build community trust.
“Pastors don’t visit neighbourhoods to crack cases. Their job is to heal and to pray, not police,” said Pastor Andrew King of Toronto-based Smyrna Seventh-day Adventist Church.
“The people in the community do not trust the police.”
King said that he felt clergy could “bring that calming effect and a different perspective on who the police are.”
The Etobicoke Strategy has created events to reach victims of crime as well as residents whose homes have been raided by police.
King explained that police cannot perform their law enforcement duties and then come back and still act as soothing, calming agents in their communities.
Organizers believe that by attending community events together, police and clergy can help promote both a healthy respect for the law as well as a sense of trust.
Etobicoke Strategy activities include praying with residents, encouraging young people to stay in school and directing residents to community resources and job opportunities.
“When things don’t make sense, we can give you hope,” said King who feels that the Etobicoke Strategy helps people struggling in their communities to feel as though they are not alone.