The city of Springfield is partnering with a national peacekeeping group that specializes in training community members on how to work with police to keep their streets safe.
Springfield is using a program called the Peacekeepers Global Initiative to make unstable neighborhoods safer by deterring crime and violence.
Peacekeepers was founded by Columbus native Dennis Muhammad and stems from the Islamic faith. The idea is to bring in men from the community to make the streets safe for women, children and seniors.
Muhammad calls the initiative an "Hour of Power" for peace. That's when a large group of trained Peacekeepers spend an hour a week in their neighborhoods demonstrating for an end to crime and violence.
"When you are standing there with an orange Peackeepers' shirt on that says, 'I'm Present for Peace.' If you got 50 Peacekeepers standing on any corner, it is a great deterrent against crime or violence," Muhammad said. "Don't anybody want to buy or sell drugs when you got 50 people standing on the corner talking about, 'I'm present for peace.'"
Peacekeepers is now in over 13 cities across the country and has received the financial support of many celebrities, including hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons. Chief of Police Stephen Moody says he knows
that there has been interest in other cities and hopes the Peacekeepers Initiative will help curb violence and crime in Springfield as well.
"I am tired of looking in moms and dads faces, mothers and fathers faces, to let them know that their son or daughter...that they have lost them to violence means," Moody said. "Our children are our most precious
natural resource in this country and in our community."
Moody says his department has had meetings with the Peacekeepers and will continue to work with them to help the program expand.