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Faith Watch: Police, church leaders meet for crime prevention program

LYNCHBURG, Va. - In the basement of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, men and women of God gathered.

Not to cite scripture, but rather to learn how to ward of evil and keep their parishioners safe.

"For too long, the faith community has been kind of overlooked," said Steven Wood.

Wood is the community services coordinator at the Lynchburg Police Department. His role Monday night was to teach church leaders about the recently created the Faith Watch Program in Lynchburg, a first-of-its-kind program for the city coordinated with Interfaith Outreach Association, to help reduce opportunities for crime at faith-based organizations.

"The faith community has always been a welcoming organization and that's not going to change. But the accord to it is still be welcoming, but while putting this crime prevention into place," said Wood.

To do that, Wood says, is through a number of avenues. One way, keeping up appearances inside and outside of the church, such as fixing lighting issues outside the building to ward off potential opportunities.

"We do have a lot of things going well for us. But there's always things that we need to watch out for," said Blane Fox, a deacon at West Lynchburg Baptist Church. "I did learn some things of what to watch for if someone comes through the church."

LPD says it will go to each interfaith organization and assess their property for free.

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