Pastors Unite to Fight Crime in DeKalb County

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A group of DeKalb County pastors say this week’s shooting of a young child has struck a nerve and caused them to team up and do more to fight crime.

The pastors talked about the shooting of 1-year-old Deonte Patterson at a Wednesday news conference.

"Across the nation and here in the county, crime is just out of control," said Rev. Cynthia Hale of Ray of Hope Church on Snapfinger Road.

Through their individual churches, the pastors say they've done what they can to help reduce crime in South DeKalb County, focusing outreach efforts on low-income apartment communities, extended stay hotels, and other spots targeted by criminals. But Wednesday on Candler Road near Ember Drive, they said working together-they could accomplish even more.

"The more we are out in the streets with our congregations, the more we can stop the efforts of gang leaders and other criminals targeting our streets," Rev. Marlin D. Harris said as he stood just a mile away from his New Life Church on Flat Shoals Parkway.

DeKalb County Public Safety Director Dr. Cedric Alexander says business robberies are up 37 percent in the county and aggravated assault up 22 percent. He said the stats are even higher in South DeKalb, but crime across the entire county is down overall.

Alexander said he looks forward to working with the church leaders and the community when they all meet on December 5 at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia.