Officials with the Michigan State Police are searching for clergy in Oakland and Macomb Counties who can help bring calm during criminal investigations.
State police say they are expanding a program already operating in cities including Detroit and Flint that has members of faith-based organizations accompany investigators at ongoing crime scenes.
It’s called the CAUTION program, which stands for “Community Action United Team In Our Neighborhood.”
State Police 1st Lt. Michael Shaw says the faith leaders are trained to understand the procedures used during a criminal investigation so they can describe what’s happening to crowds surrounding a crime scene.
“We have a list of clergy we can call to come out to the scene with us,” Shaw says. “And they kind of handle talking with the family members that are involved in the incident, (talking) to the crowd and explaining to them exactly what law enforcement is doing there at that time.”
Shaw says some aspects of a crime scene investigation, such as leaving a deceased victim uncovered for hours while police search for evidence, can appear harsh to loved ones gathered nearby.
But he says clergy can bring calm to a situation where a law enforcement official simply cannot.
SHAW: “Sometimes the family just want somebody to kind of lean on and to have a shoulder to cry on. And when we’re trying to investigate it, it’s hard to spare a trooper or law enforcement officer to perform that function.”
Shaw tells WDET’s Quinn Klinefelter the program grew out of an effort to secure four Michigan cities with some of the highest crime rates in the nation.