Closings and delays

Burlington police working with churches to fight crime

BURLINGTON, N.C. -- Pastor Ralph Emerson sees it far too often.

"Crime involving a weapon, violence, death, we even had a member of our church who lost somebody recently, lost their son to gun violence," Emerson said.

Young people gone too soon to violence.

"It's very disheartening to see life lost so rapidly, almost without a care," he said.

Emerson is executive pastor of CityGate Church on Longpine Road.

He’s one of 200 faith leaders who received a letter from Burlington police last week, asking him to join an effort to try to stop youth violence.

“How do we prevent this from other families?” he said. “How do we make sure I don't have another mother coming in here for the same thing?"

Police say, this year alone, 110 violent crimes in the city were committed by someone 17 or younger.

"Just recently we had a 17-year-old kill another 17-year-old," said Lt. Mark Yancey, with the Burlington Police Department.

It’s violence Yancey says police can't tackle alone.

"It takes a village to raise a child, we're all a part of that," Yancey said.

Yancey says police and faith leaders will hold meetings to talk about needs in the community and how to create more youth programs and activities.

"Maybe it's adopting a high school and say we're going to be a presence in that school,” Emerson said. “We're going to be at games and events, walk those hallways and make relationships with those kids."

Emerson says his church has youth programs but says hopefully through the partnership, they can do even more.

"Give them an alternative and speak life to them where picking up a gun is not their first option," he said.

The next meeting will take place on Dec. 13 at Burlington Housing Authority.

City leaders are also working on creating a youth violence task force next year.​