Collaboration and trust-building focus of National Faith & Blue Weekend 2022
Thousands of faith-based partners helped illustrate how law enforcement and communities can come together to perfect policing
By Rev. Markel Hutchins
National Faith and Blue Weekend (Faith & Blue) 2022 was one of the most inspiring experiences of my life. There was tremendous energy across the country as law enforcement professionals and residents came together to address the need for collaboration and trust-building to reduce crime and tension. Thousands of faith-based partners helped illuminate the positive undercurrent in America that law enforcement and communities can come together to perfect policing.
We started Faith & Blue in 2020 in the midst of the pandemic with 1,000 events across 43 states. In 2021, 2,000 community-based engagements were held across all 50 states. This year, 3,000 engagements witnessed people hugging, shaking hands, coming together and building connections as diverse as our country. This is what a movement is: taking a difficult issue and creating create pathways forward together.
National Faith and Blue with @NYPDPSA1 & Pastor Emmanuel & his congregation was wonderful. Our NCOs gave out PPE supplies, recruitment flyers, and crime tips were distributed. #FaithAndBlue@NYPDHousing @NYPDnews @NYPDPC @NYPDChiefPatrol @NYPDCommAffairs @nypdrecruit @NYPDTips pic.twitter.com/6vg7sEaYU4— NYPD Housing PSA 1 (@NYPDPSA1) October 19, 2022
It's encouraging to hear communities and law enforcement say that these interactions were invaluable. Over the past several years, with the pandemic, protests and friction that emerged from countless tragedies, people have been disillusioned and disconnected. Faith & Blue offers hope and optimism, and despite what we see in traditional media and social media, we're not nearly as divided as we are disconnected. At this moment in history, where division seems to be on the rise, there are millions of ordinary people determined to draw us closer.
After visiting multiple cities over the course of the four-day weekend, I concluded Faith & Blue Weekend in the city of Boston. The Boston Police Department hosted a huge Faith & Blue marquee event that brought together faith-based organizations of every kind. Cardinal O'Malley, the Boston Mayor, the Police Commission, the District Attorney and many other leaders were in attendance.
New photos of the @FaithandBlue Hollywood Unity in the Community clean-up. Great partnership with @LAPDHollywood and over 50 community partners! #FaithandBlue #Police #Hollywood pic.twitter.com/yr4cvxDwOL— UnityintheCommunity (@unityitc) October 20, 2022
In Boston, I watched as a group of elementary school students took the stage and recited a prayer they wrote about Faith & Blue. As they prayed, hundreds of community members and law enforcement professionals and leaders from all walks of life stood together. It brought tears to my eyes. Just two and a half years ago Faith & Blue was just a vision. Since then, countless people have put in countless hours of work to create this movement. And seeing young people focused on building bridges for transformation brought me the most joy.
We are turning a corner out of darkness. Faith & Blue demonstrated this in a very direct way. Across 10 different cities in six days, crisscrossing the country and conversing with people of all kinds offered a distinctly different image. We are not as divided as we are disconnected.
Despite the challenges that we have faced over the last several years, I truly believe that the future is bright. There is a renewed focus on community and police engagement like never before. Law enforcement agencies are working together with communities to co-produce public safety. We cannot rely on law enforcement to do the job of public safety by themselves. Every community organization, every faith-based group and every resident has a shared responsibility to create a safe and equitable neighborhood.
BUILDING BRIDGES & BREAKING DOWN BIASES! @SheriffSF partnered with the @sfbayareanoble, Bart PD, & @SanLeandroPD earlier this month to host workshops about Cyberbullying & Social Media, and Situational Awareness. Congrats to winners of the essay contest.#community #FaithandBlue pic.twitter.com/JUQZBSAIQt— SF Sheriff's Office (@SheriffSF) October 24, 2022
When there is a challenge, we have two options. We can either curse the darkness or light a candle. We can stand on the street corners and yell, lament silently, or get to work. I hope that anyone concerned about police, justice and equity will find a way to only connect with Faith & Blue and this broader body of work. Let’s figure out how we can get every young person to recognize that crime is not a viable option and every law enforcement professional to recognize the humanity in people.
I know that we are providing an example of how partnerships will take us to a greater nation, building on the work happening in each community.
About the author
The Reverend Markel Hutchins is a civil and human rights leader and national lead organizer of National Faith and Blue Weekend.