|Updated: 1/16 11:17 pm
||Published: 1/16 10:40 pm
LITTLE ROCK, AR – After heading the Stop the Violence organization for nearly 23 years, Reverend Benny Johnson is stepping down as director and handing the reins over to Walter Crockran.
Johnson cites deteriorating health for his decision. “My knee is in really bad shape. I can’t do the walking, I can’t do the standing like I used to. I want to, but sometimes you have to realize it’s time to give it up,” says Johnson.
Stop the Violence works with the law enforcement community to reduce crime in central Arkansas. Police say his efforts have been instrumental in the community, from helping get offenders off the street to reaching out and comforting families who have been victimized by crime.
“Really, before Benny came along, there wasn’t much,” says Captain Terry Hastings. “We had people who would talk and say they needed to do something. But nobody ever put those words into actions. Benny put those words into actions.”
Crockran is ready to continue the good work Johnson started more than 20 years ago.
"One of things I would like to do is try to get the community more involved with dealing with policeman, get the churches more involved, and have people understand the police are their friend and not their enemy," says Crockran.
He would also like to focus on the choices children make. “[I want to] get the kids to understand there’s something better in life than carrying a gun and doing things that land them in jail.”
Stop the Violence hopes to continue to be a powerful presence of faith, caring about the city, and caring about the kids.
The group plans to hold its annual Youth Revival this Sunday and Monday at Pilgrim Valley Baptist Church at 6pm. Johnson says he plans to stay involved with Stop the Violence as its president and founder.