COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — Ask anyone about crime in Columbus and they’ll likely have an opinion. More than 65 homicides have occurred this year, surpassing the city’s record high of 46 homicides set in 2020. 

The faith community has answered the call by law enforcement to be a part of the solution. Members of the clergy are putting the finishing touches on an upcoming virtual sort of town hall meeting to address the violence from a spiritual context. “The Road To A Safer Columbus: A Spiritual Discussion on Violence” will take place on social media at a date and time to be arranged. The public is invited. 

On February 16, 2021, Columbus Police Chief Freddie Blackmon put out a call to the public.

“We need all hands on deck. The Columbus Police Department and the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office cannot do this alone.”

I sat down with three men from different walks of life, Muscogee County Sheriff Greg Countryman, Shawn Raleigh, an ex-con, and the Reverend Dr. J.H. Flakes, III for their take on the violent crimes being committed in Columbus. Though their paths began differently, they each made the decision to make faith the cornerstone of their lives. Dr. Flakes, who pastors Fourth Street Missionary Baptist Church says one of the initiatives the clergy will address is godly parenting.

“I believe it’s important for us to raise the awareness within our community, within our city, within our neighborhoods that there is a godly order and when one steps outside of that order then what you will have is chaos,” said Rev. Dr. J.H. Flakes, III.

Sheriff Countryman says his mother was a strict disciplinarian.

“Checking on your children and knowing what your children are doing is a thing of the past,” said Sheriff Greg Countryman.

Shawn Raleigh says he’d like to see this next generation avoid the pitfalls he’s had to face.

“You’re putting everything else on a scale, put that on a scale, put your life on a scale and ask yourself is that what you really want to do? Do you really want to go to prison?,” said Shawn Raleigh.

As soon as “The Road to a Safer Columbus: A spiritual Discussion on Violence is scheduled, News Three will get that information to you so you can join in on the conversation.