MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The Memphis Police Department celebrated its 10th graduating class of the Clergy Academy Thursday night.
Cops and clergy are joining forces for a safer Memphis.
An off-duty officer was involved in a crash on March 21, just after midnight.
“Sad to get a call that early in the morning,” said Charlie Caswell, graduate.
Off-duty officer Lieutenant Myron Fair was killed after being hit by an alleged drunk driver.
"To be there to pray with the officers and the family that was there, so it was a very sad situation," said Caswell.
MPD Clergy Academy graduate Charlie Caswell got the call that he agreed to take, serving as a spiritual advisor for officers and victims of violent crimes.
Thursday night, a new class of clergy graduated from the academy.
The graduating class consisted of 57 men and women, who took a six-week course learning the in's and out's of MPD and conflict resolution.
"If they're doing it at their church, at the mosque, at the synagogue we want to talk all the same language and make sure we are all working to make our community safer," said
Director Michael Rallings sees these men and women of the cloth as more than prayer partners, but as partners in lowering the city's violent crime rate.
According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Memphis saw a 6.6 percent increase in aggravated assaults an about a 12 percent increase in murders in the first quarter of 2019 as opposed to last year.
Rallings says considering the vast number of churches in the Bluff City, most crimes happen not too far where people worship.
"Saved folk, you can't keep talking to saved folk. And in the church, we keep talking to saved folk, but the problems are outside of the church," said Royal Chatman, graduate.
The academy has gotten a lot more hands on, having pastors and deacons ride-along in squad cars and participate in simulator training.
To help share the message of what police officers do every day.
Director Rallings says while homicides are up, property crime is down and other violent crimes like robberies and rapes are down as well.
He says he needs the community to help them move in the right direction.
If you are a member of the clergy and would like to participate in the next class, call (901) 620-1943 or email Tadario.firstname.lastname@example.org