God Squad Wants to Talk People Away From Trouble During Black Spring Break

A group of clergymen and other community members hope their presence will make a difference at Black Spring Break this year. They plan to walk around during the event talking to trouble makers so maybe they won't end up in jail or worse. On Monday God Squad members listened to the experts from the Daytona Beach Police Department talk about how they can help keep peace on the streets. Chaplain Larry Edwards founded the God Squad in 1988. He says during events like Black Spring Break the streets are exactly where trouble can brew. Using stories and role playing, he told God Squad members how their presence could help diffuse situations before they get violent. "

It's really a communication and a ministry," said Edwards. "You get to educate people on the laws of the land such as drinking in public and being disorderly. We get to talk to them when the police officers don't have the time to talk to them."

Edwards says the God Squad has its limitations....and must work with police. Law enforcement officials say they are looking forward to that partnership. .

Sheriff George Payne said "We may have them assigned with different groups of officers where they can go in calm down a situation instead of escalating a situation."

The members will work 12 hour shifts.but they say helping young people stay safe and out of jail is worth volunteering their time.

"We want them to return home safely just like they left home that they can return in that same manner," said Rev. Rossie Francis, God Squad Member. "Anything that we can do to facilitate better relations and communication. We want to be out there to do that."

The God Squad hopes that impact is that Spring Beakers feel they are welcome visitors. Some of the members of the Gulf Coast God Squad will be traveling to Daytona Beach later this month to see how the group in that city operates. About 160 thousand people are expected to be in the city for Black College Reunion that weekend.

by Danielle Thomas