- Associated Press - Saturday, May 27, 2017

SELMA, Ala. (AP) - An Alabama prosecutor frustrated by gang violence is asking churches to help in the fight against crime.

District Attorney Michael Jackson is launching a program he calls “Adopt-a-Gang Member.” He says the idea is to help gang members feel more worthwhile by getting them involved in churches.

Jackson held a summit in Selma recently with about 50 pastors to explain the program, Al.com reported (https://bit.ly/2s31agz ).

Gang violence is a persistent problem in Selma and surrounding Dallas County. There were 16 shootings in the city in just one month last year, and many of those were blamed on gangs.

“A year ago, we were named the eighth most dangerous city in the country,” Jackson said. “At night you hear the shooting, and most of the killings we’ve had are gang-related. We recently just had a rash of killings.”

Earlier this month, 37-year-old Alicostro Romero Moore was shot to death in Selma. Police have arrested two men and say the killing was related to drugs and gangs.

Selma Police Chief Spencer Collier in March announced the arrests of a group of alleged gang members in a string of shootings into homes and cars. The same group is accused of opening fire on a Selma police officer who tried to pull them over.

Jackson said he was in bed half asleep a couple of weeks ago when the idea of “Adopt-A-Gang Member” came to him.

“Like a lightbulb, it hit,” Jackson said. “I thought this would be a great idea to tackle the gang problem that we have here.”

Jackson said all of the churches know who their members are who are in gangs. He said the idea is to try to draw those men into activities at the church rather than the streets.

“Something has to be done,” Jackson said. “We’re going to try to continuously tackle this problem because it won’t be solved overnight.”

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