The following letter went out to hundreds of clergy on the morning of May 16, 2021.
Greetings. I have been amazed at your responses over the last week. From the Baptists to the Methodists to the Presbyterians and everyone in between, you are dedicated to making sure that we all join together to do everything in our power to make sure that tragedies involving mental health become a thing of the past.. Repeatedly, I have listened to your complaints about local law enforcement not having the training that they need to deal with these situations (which was unfortunately magnified in the last few weeks). Make no mistake…we are not the only community having these problems. Our colleagues around the country are demanding movement/action to “DEFUND THE POLICE.” While such a phrase can sometimes be scary, it need not be. What most of our colleagues mean by such statements is that they want funding for public safety to be directed to areas that are about preventing tragedies instead of combating tragedies. There is no question that our local law enforcement does not budget/spend enough money with regards to engaging mental illness. No law enforcement officers should be put in the position of responding to a mental health call without a qualified mental health professional right next to them. Obviously, this takes money. “DEFUNDING THE POLICE” is about making sure that securing that money is a priority. So, let’s join together with our colleagues around the country and find a way to “DEFUND THE POLICE.” Surely, we deserve more than being afraid to call law enforcement because we are not sure they can handle these types of situations. I look forward to hearing from you this week….and planning our next steps.
Keep the faith.
Rev. Dr. Jeff Hood
Zionville, North Carolina