Fighting Crime One Piece Of Trash At A Time (VIDEO)

By Corinne Rose

July 9, 2013 Updated Jul 9, 2013 at 9:37 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) -- How can picking up trash help curb the homicide rate in Fort Wayne?

A church on the city's southeast side is reclaiming the area around it, by helping neighbors one block at a time.

When members of Grace Point Church in the 5100 block of Gaywood Drive asked neighbors their biggest need, the overwhelming response was “I don't feel safe.”

Pastor Javier Mondragon uses the "broken window" theory, that criminals are attracted to areas that are overgrown and unkempt.

"When the crime happens and people start seeing as normal, it's just contagious. And then if nobody cares and nobody takes responsibility, it would just continue and it will spread," Mondragon says.

So the church began its adopt-a-block program, where volunteers pick up trash, clean off graffiti, and help residents with landscaping and lighting.

"Oh, it's great. They're just, they feel safer they like the idea of having someone help them with clean up or anything that they have to do that they can't do themselves anymore," says Vivian Sarver, president of the Mt. Vernon Park Neighborhood Association.

Deputy Police Chief Garry Hamilton oversees the southeast quadrant of the city. He says helping Grace Point educate and help neighbors about home safety tips helps increase a police presence in the area, as well.

"When they take pride in their neighborhood, they'll report stuff. They're not going to allow people just to linger around the neighborhoods, suspicious activity. And they'll force 'em out, you know, these people are taking responsibility, this is our community, and we're taking our community back," Hamilton says.

Taking a community back, one block -- and one piece of trash -- at a time.

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