RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Could the violence that took 17-year-old Keona Johnson's life be prevented through prayer?
Richmond Police are seriously considering that question. They visited one of the city's toughest neighborhoods with area faith leaders.
Normally, when police cruisers head to the City's rough areas it's for something bad, but Tuesday night officers swarmed Creighton Court armed with badges and bibles.
In a community where the sounds of gunshots often fill the air, strangers held hands. More than 100 people from churches all over the city converged on Creighton.
"We thank you God that united we stand and we can and will win back our community," they said in a prayer.
They knocked on doors to ask residents like Janet Wright what they need.
"I think if you know who God is and somebody explains that to you and lets you know how important you are as an individual, I think it'll be less crime," she told us after speaking with Police Chief Bryan Norwood.
One of the complaints we heard from several people is the lack of things for their kids to do. That is evident in the basketball court near where leaders held a prayer circle. One hoop doesn't have a net, another is bent and one pole is missing a backboard completely.
"They can't play without dodging bullets," one resident told officers.
Norwood said the department has seen tangible results when they've worked with faith leaders in Hillside and Mosby Courts.
"Us being just regular people and maybe not having a badge on, they open up a little better with us," explained Domonique Hargrove of Richmond Christian Center.
They're making progress in communities kept down by a violent history.
"Today, we're going to knock on 500 doors and we're going to touch 500 people hopefully," Chief Norwood maintained. "I think that's how you affect change: one person at a time."
Creighton has actually seen a decrease in violent crime, according to police. They hope this walk will help that trend.
They'll be back in May to deliver resources discussed Tuesday night.
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