Clergy join Erie military on ride-along patrols

July 10, 2014 - box office

Erie military Cpl. Craig Stoker greets a Rev. Michael Coles with a handshake, afterwards slips a bulletproof vest over Coles’ head, muting a tone of a reverend’s fluorescent orange T-shirt.

“Oh, they pull these ribs right in,” Coles says with a grunt as Stoker tightens a vest’s straps.

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The dual travel to Stoker’s black Ford Crown Victoria unit car. It’s critical as a military automobile usually by a tiny emblems on a sides and a puncture lights tucked underneath a roof during a tip of a windshield.

After a brief reason of a car’s computerized call complement and a how-to on operative a lights and siren, Stoker puts a Ford in gear. They discuss about a mutual acquaintance, a late city military officer, as a automobile circles Perry Square on a approach toward East Sixth Street.

Stoker and Coles conduct out on a two-hour, midafternoon float around Erie.

“We’ve got to get reason of a immature people before they get too distant gone,” Coles, 60, pronounced before a ride-along with Stoker. “Everyone’s sleepy about what’s going on in a city. We’ve got to do something. we wish this does some good before someone gets hurt, gets killed.”

Coles, a priest of House of Prayer Missionary Baptist Church, 155 E. 21st St., and a proprietor of a city’s west side, didn’t need to float around in a military automobile to learn about crime problems plaguing a city. He pronounced he’s seen and listened about a shootings, robberies and assaults, and he remarkable that he and some members of his East 21st Street church frequently travel around a community.

But climbing into a military automobile with one of a city’s officers provides a opposite viewpoint on what’s happening, pronounced Elder Parris Baker, of Believers International Worship Center, that shares ceremony space during Coles’ East 21st Street church, and an partner highbrow and executive of a amicable work module during Gannon University.

Baker pronounced he has prolonged speedy his associate preaching members to float along with Erie police. He’s finished it off and on for several years, with a thought hatched during farrago training that Baker supposing to a dialect after an occurrence in that a city military officer was hold on video joking about a carnage victim.

The thought hold on slowly, Baker said.

“The village infrequently believes if you’re a priest and you’re in a car, you’re on (the police’s) side. Kind of an us-them thing. We had to work by that a small bit,” he said.

Baker and Erie Police Chief Randy Bowers talked about a ride-along module again progressing this year, and a report was developed. Six preaching members, including Baker, have sealed adult to float with military during first, second or third shifts, with a initial ride-along hold Jun 13.

Stoker wheels his military cruiser south onto Wallace Street from East Sixth Street and coasts down a travel where groups of people, some sitting on porches and others station on a sidewalks or on a side of a road, stop and stare. Coles, his right arm resting on a newcomer doorway and partially out a open window, rises his palm to call to a few.

Stoker answers a doubt about how he became a military officer, and he talks about his stream duties. Coles, a reverend for 35 years, talks about assembly his mother during a reconstruction in Erie.

Stoker, 39, tells him a problem for city military right now is gun crime, like a countless shots-fired calls that officers have responded to in new months. Other times of a year move other problems, like burglaries that tend to boost around Thanksgiving and Christmas, he says.

The automobile turns left and travels a few blocks easterly before branch north. Stoker stops it during East Sixth Street and waits for trade to pass before branch left. As he waits, a male and a lady travel past a car, tighten adequate to hold it. The male takes a discerning peek during Stoker and Coles, who are talking, and mutters a derogative tenure during them. They don’t seem to hear it.

“Some people consider we wish to detain people. we don’t wish to detain people. Sometimes it’s good to expostulate around,” Stoker says.

“This is a good thing when a village can see we’re all operative together. That’s what we like about this,” Coles replies. “The categorical thing about it is we wish a city to be safe. My kids, whoever’s kids, wish to be safe.”

The ride-along isn’t a grave program, Bowers said. But he thinks it’s a certain one designed to rise stronger holds between a military dialect and a village it serves.

“We consider it’s an critical mystic gesticulate for a village to see a preaching and military together. We share a same concerns about assault in a community. We consider it’s a good thing that they are seen together. Each time one of a pastors is in a cruiser with one of a military officers for a integrate of hours, it allows them to get to know any other better,” he said.

A preaching member roving in a military automobile will not revoke violence, Baker said. But a ride-alongs will emanate a couple between what military are doing in terms of safeguarding and portion a village and what preaching members do in portion a community.

“What we’re perplexing to do in a purpose of a preaching is to boost oneness in a community, yield a clarity of wish that things can change, things can get better, we’re not in it alone,” Baker said.

In a past, priests and pastors would live in a village where their church was located and would get to know what’s going on. Now, a lot of preaching members live outward a village and expostulate a prolonged approach to strech their churches, Baker said.

“People don’t see a tie as clearly, and to some grade they consider we don’t care. We uncover adult and say, ‘You’re a bad person, we need to change,’ afterwards we leave. People are removing sleepy of conference that, so a ride-along helps in that fashion,” he said.

The usually “action” Coles sees during his ride-along with Stoker is when they respond to an area of East Seventh Street where a tourist reports a organisation of girls fighting with Tasers. While en track to a call from a top easterly side, they accept word that a girls are no longer fighting.

“They contingency have listened we coming,” Coles tells Stoker.

By a time Stoker reaches East Seventh Street, other officers are articulate to 4 13-year-old girls. One officer warns them of a difficulty they could find themselves in if they lapse to a plcae of a reported quarrel and start adult another fight.

The beef, Stoker and Coles are told, was over something someone posted on Facebook.

“That Facebook is crazy,” Coles says after climbing behind into Stoker’s car. “It’s a good thing, though they abuse it. And these immature kids, they don’t think.”

Stoker drives off and turns south onto Parade Street, flitting an ice cream mount where Stoker and other officers apprehended a bank spoliation think in late Jun and nearby a mark where a male was shot twice by another male a few weeks before a bank robbery. Coles records a deficiency of business during a ice cream stand. Stoker says a business should get busier when dusk falls.

“That’s crazy. Can’t even take your family out for ice cream,” Coles says.

When preaching members and military officers are roving together, it’s critical that they get out of a automobile and speak to people if there are activities in a village and there’s not a call, Baker said.

“When there is an opportunity, many times there’s a smashing metamorphosis. ‘You’re a Po-Po, and we hatred your guts.’ Why? ‘Because someone taught me that.’ You spend 15, 20 minutes, and you’re kind of a good guy. The badge and a gun are a barrier, though a longer we stay in a village and talk, a some-more that dissipates. They turn some-more human,” he said.

Everyone concerned in these interactions learns that they have some-more in common than differences. They find that they have a same hurdles and a same desires, like good schools and a abounding community, Baker said.

“That’s a value,” he said. “It’s genuine simple. There’s no regulation for this. Just adore people, really.”

Stoker’s unit automobile eventually creates a approach to Erie’s west side, where his review with Coles turns to basketball and either LeBron James will stay with a Miami Heat or join a Cleveland Cavaliers, Stoker’s favorite team.

As they journey West 18th Street, a review switches to noted dishes they’ve eaten during some now-closed restaurants they pass.

Stoker tells Coles he’s a initial preaching member he’s taken on patrol. He says he expects some-more ride-alongs to happen, though expected not as uneventful, call-wise, as his time with Coles has been.

“Today is a some-more relaxing day. Tomorrow competence be a opposite affair,” Stoker says.

TIM HAHN can be reached during 870-1731 or by e-mail. Follow him on Twitter during

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