HARTSVILLE, SC (WBTW) - Darlington County leaders met with community members in Hartsville Monday to try and stem crime in the area.
"We can't do law enforcement's job," said Chris Morgan, a local pastor in Hartsville. "They have their job to do to enforce the law."
Morgan, the pastor for Christ Cathedral Ministries, said he sees up-close what he called the root of the city's crime problems.
"Negative male role models engaging our adolescent boys," he explained. "We have to have positive male role models to trump that."
That's much of the reason why Pastor Morgan joined hundreds of his neighbors in a forum and Jerusalem Baptist Church Monday evening. Residents filled out surveys asking them what they felt were they main issues in their neighborhoods.
"I'm very interested in getting the surveys back and seeing the people that want to get involved," said SC Senator Gerald Malloy (D-Darlington).
Sen. Malloy did just that Monday, serving as moderator as citizens came to voice their concerns to him and representatives from Hartsville Police and Darlington County Sheriff's Office.
"What we saw tonight was a hunger and a thirst for some discussions among people in the community," Sen. Malloy said. "I think the people are fully engaged; it's a lively crowd."
Many asked law enforcement to step up patrols to protect their neighborhoods. Others--like Morgan--begged people to get involved with young people in the community to change the trend.
"There's a lot of things that civilians, civic organizations, the clergy, and people of faith can do to get people to drop the crime and prevent people from having to deal with law enforcement," Morgan said.
"I think what's critical is to make the community familiar with law enforcement so they're not strangers," offered Sen. Malloy. "They can end up having a conversation."
Future community meetings will focus on possible solutions to recent crime in the area. Pastor Morgan, though, said he and his ministry will continue working the community and recruiting positive male role models to help change the trend.
"Calling all men, man up!" Morgan commanded. "It may not be your child, but it takes a village to raise a family."