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New faith-based program looks to help Milwaukee police combat crime

The numbers are sobering in the city of Milwaukee. Since the new year, 58 people are dead. Just in the last 72 hours, 14 people have been shot.

Milwaukee police are looking for every way they can to stop the violence, including turning to the church.

\"It was a bloody weekend,\" said Chief Ed Flynn.

That's how Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn describes the recent rash of violence erupting through city neighborhoods. He said the crimes are being committed by people who aren't afraid to be locked up.

\"There are a lot of people who reject violence,\" he continued. \"They've gotta step forward more and get inside the mindset of young men who think violence is a way of being cool and having status. A big part of that is psychological, not tactical.\"

Answering that call is Richard Schwoegler of Faith Builders Church.

\"It's not the police department's job to make these changes, not the government's job to make these changes, it's us as a community, as faith based groups, as different organizations to work together,\" Schwoegler said.

He's overseeing a new chaplaincy program in conjunction with Milwaukee Police and the Salvation Army.

The 50 trained chaplains will be one, reactive. They'll respond to homicides to help families of victims and the suspects.

Their job is also to be proactive, meeting monthly with officers to learn what the needs are in their district.

\"It could be food pantry, could be that they don't have any furniture and getting them clothes, educational,\" he said.

Schwoegler called it a holistic approach to healing and empowering the community to believe life has purpose.

\"The time is now and there are no more excuses,\" said Schwoegler.

\"I think it's an issue we can deal with successfully, but it'll take time and there's room for a lot of people to put their shoulders to the wheel,\" said Chief Flynn.

Anyone can join the chaplaincy program.

An informational meeting will be held Wednesday, May 20 at 1 p.m. at the Salvation Army. The address is 1645 N. 25th St. in Milwaukee.

Officials hope to have the program up and running by June 14, just in time to combat summer violence.

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