The new program is called the Police and Clergy Alliance, or PACA. It unites dozens of local ministers groups to form a united front on community and crime issues. It replaces older alliances that Police Chief Charles McClelland says have become
fractured over the years.
"We became a little bit divided in the sense that we have numerous clergy teams and it's difficult for us at the Houston Police Department to manage all of those groups and we decided it would certainly be a good idea to bring all our ministerial
partners under one roof, under one set of guidelines and how they can best partner with us."
The new PACA regulations say groups must conform to the rules of HPD and membership can be terminated at any time. Ministers with new PACA ID's can't identify themselves as members of other groups.
The Reverend Samuel Smith has pastored the Mt. Horeb Missionary Baptist Church on West Gray for 47 years. He's also a member of Houston Ministers Against Crime, a group that PACA won't specifically recognize.
"One of the fine points of Houston Ministers Against Crime is that we spoke out against anything that was not right and they're trying to muffle that, silence that particular privilege that we have, and that's wrong."
HPD says individual ministers can still speak out against the department, but not as a part of PACA.