Tuscaloosa's law enforcement community is hosting a summit that will connect faith-based leaders with social service agencies that can provide services to people in need.
More than 300 church leaders have been invited to attend the Faith-based Community Resources Summit scheduled at the Tuscaloosa Rivermarket from 8:30-11:30 a.m. April 24. The event will give them an opportunity to learn about the different resources available in the community to help with problems like financial difficulty, substance abuse and mental illness.
Tuscaloosa County District Attorney Hays Webb was joined by Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Ron Abernathy, Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson and University of Alabama social work students Caitie Manuel and Katie Castillo when he discussed the event at a Monday morning news conference.
"We strive mightily to assure Tuscaloosa County is its very best and very safest with traditional locking up the bad guys, but also by thinking in non-traditionally, outside-the-box kinds of ways," Webb said. "We hope these services can be provided to people before it gets to crisis stage for them, and certainly before it gets to the criminal stage."
Webb said the news conference Monday was held to reach out to church leaders who his office may not have reached yet and members of the general public who wish to attend. Manuel and Castillo, UA students working as interns with Webb's office, have helped organize the event and compiled a booklet with contact information for the many agencies in Tuscaloosa County.
"They are often gone to by their parishioners with myriad issues," Webb said. "They're not necessarily armed or equipped to deal with those problems by themselves."
The three-hour summit will include speakers, including Abernathy and Anderson, substance abuse and mental health counselors. A panel discussion with pastors and agency heads will follow. Around 20 service providers will be set up on-site.
"We can find ways to reach someone before they commit and crime and end up in our jail," Abernathy said. "And this can also be a way to help people once they get out of our facility. Anything we can do to prevent crime in any measure or bring a better quality of life, we need to attempt to do."