NewsLocal News / July 8, 2019

Faith Groups Push 2-1-1 Helpline As Crime Prevention Tool

Connect2Help211 has been available for years. But Meriweather says too many people aren’t aware of it, so non-emergency calls often go to the police, which sometimes makes the situation worse. (Drew Daudelin/WFYI)


Faith-based groups in Indianapolis on Monday launched an effort to raise awareness for a phone service designed to prevent crime, called Connect2Help211.

When you call 2-1-1 you’re connected with someone trained to help with crisis situations. Community leaders call their new awareness campaign ‘Talk it Out, Don’t Shoot it Out.’

Gregory Meriweather is the community strategic initiatives liaison for IMPD. He says the service may help resolve problems that, if unaddressed, could lead someone to crime.

"What we're looking at is the part that comes before the violent act, that part of how I feel, that could possibly be addressed through mental health assistance," Meriweather says. "That part of saying 'I'm hungry, so I don't have to go rob a grocery store, or do something that's in the community that would be deemed harmful.'"

Connect2Help211 has been available for years. But Meriweather says too many people aren’t aware of it, so non-emergency calls often go to the police, which sometimes makes the situation worse.

"I mean, there are so many instances where things may get heated in 911 calls," Meriweather says. "We want it to be the right people in the right place doing the right things."

Pastor Wayne Moore is pastor of the Olivet Baptist Church and president of the Baptist Ministers Alliance.

"In the community in which I live, it is, at this point, a moment of education," Moore says. "There is a facade that there's engagement, but it really does not exist the way it should exist, in my opinion."

Connect2Help211 serves 35 counties in central Indiana.

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