NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – In a community where violent crime is considered “normal” for some, the gap between law enforcement and the community can be far.
In North Nashville, community leaders are trying to bridge that gap, in order to get crime numbers down. And, for those who call the area home, it’s a personal mission.
“We’re going to be national news with high crime,” said Reverend Enoch Fuzz.
For decades North Nashville has been home for Reverend Fuzz. He has presided over Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church and said he has seen it all. But things changed, when a church member came to him saying she feared for her life.
“My church member said ‘Reverend, I don’t feel safe coming to church,'” Fuzz remembered. “I don’t ever want one of my church members to feel that way.”
When asked about the high homicide rate in North Nashville, Reverend Fuzz wasn’t surprised. With an influx of people moving into the area, he said he’s noticed police presence has gone down.
“Decreasing in size by 10-15 percent while your community is increasing in size by 50 or 100 percent, you’ve got to give our police officers resources to get the job done,” explained Reverend Fuzz.
Reverend Fuzz said in order to turn around the community, police have to be equipped with the right resources. “We discovered that police can’t get the job done if they don’t have resources,” he said.
Holding community meetings inside his sanctuary and working with the Metro Police Department to help form a better relationship between law enforcement and the community are a couple of ways Reverend Fuzz has helped fight back against crime.
He said the root of the problem is poverty and a lack of help. Reverend Fuzz explained when people are homeless and hungry, they are more likely to go out and commit crimes. He continued, the high crime rate stems from misunderstanding within the community.
But there’s hope for change, Reverend Fuzz pointed to people like Jessica Williams, who is helping the community within.
“It allows for there to be growth in the community from different people from all types of life,” said Williams, walking around the community she has seen grown over the past 15 years.
After graduating from Fisk University, Williams started her career opening her own company called Invest Smart Today. Her company takes dilapidated buildings and lots and converts them into brand new housing.
“When you’re actually living in the community, and you’re speaking to the people who live in the community, you notice that they do want to see growth and development happen,” said Williams.
She said North Nashville has a stigma of being a violent area. It’s something she is hoping to change, by reaching out and talking to people who have a long history of living in the community. So far, after talking to neighbors who have lived in the area for decades, she said they feel unheard.
“I do think it’s the root; it’s the answer to a better community. it’s literally just conversation, respect, and communication,” said Williams.
Reverend Fuzz is urging the community to trust in the police. He stated if no one reports crime in the neighborhood, then violent crime will continue to increase.