ST. LOUIS – Clergy members had the chance to meet with the new St. Louis police chief on Monday and talk about crime in their neighborhoods.

“I would like to make sure that you know your local chief, your district commander in those areas, and then come up with a security plan,” said Chief Robert Tracy for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. “A lot of time law enforcement are in all your churches that possibly that person can be the one to help the other security officers out.”

Another concern discussed in the meeting was youth violence and repeat youth offenders.

“Let’s find out what’s going on with these kids rather than releasing them right away,” Tracy said. “Let’s talk to the parents and talk to the kids and see if there are things we can do to help, so they don’t go out and reoffend.”

The meeting and presentation were part of the Urban League of St. Louis’ involvement in the community and the organization’s efforts to involve church leaders.

“They have the locations, they’re in every neighborhood, multiple churches,” said James Clark, vice president of public safety and community response for the Urban League of St. Louis. “Now, we’ve got to be able to resource those churches, so we can restore civility. I don’t think we can restore civility without an active neighborhood church.”

He said church involvement is more important now than ever before.

“That makes this even more necessary, that this is an opportunity not to call out the church but to call in the church,” Clark said. “The church is a very pivotal player now. We see it as the most important institution moving forward in the next five to seven years.”