East Trigg Baptist Church is historically known as the church pastored by the iconic Dr. W. Herbert Brewster, who pinned hundreds of original songs in the mid-19th century Baptist Church. The original building sat on East Trigg, where it remains a monument to the prolific composer.
Fast-forward several decades later, and the building is now defunct and replaced by a new structure around the corner facing Bellevue. But the blighted structure faces a small park where prostitutes and street criminals hang out daily. That is, until Rev. Julius Beasley and East Trigg Church installed a SkyCop camera high above the old church.
“We have a member who applied for a grant with Kroger and the NAACP for the SkyCop camera,” said Pastor Beasley. “The park across the street was a place where prostitutes hung out, and lots of crime happened over there. We’re talking about prostitution, aggravated assaults, a homicide and all types of illegal activity. But the camera has made such a difference. We are working toward actually putting another one up in front of our new building on Bellevue.”
East Trigg was one of four recipients awarded the Uplift the Community Grant. Church member Cynthia Banks applied for the device to help south Memphis residents in the
“We were chosen to receive the grant which enabled us to install the camera in front of the old church and monitor activity in three, different directions,” she said. The camera records down East Trigg, along Bellevue, and Neptune. We are located in the 38106 zip code, and that is considered a high crime area. The visibility of the cam high above the street has reduced criminal activity considerably. People act differently when they understand they are being watched.
“’Strong Tower, Staying Power’ was the name of our project. We viewed the camera as being a strong tower where a watchman sits, and with God, a staying power to make our community safe, not only for our church members, but also for our neighbors and families with children. We will always be grateful for Uplift the Community which made it possible for the camera to be installed.”
Pastor Beasley, who is a veteran Memphis police officer, felt the addition of the camera would go a long way in improving the quality of life for south Memphis residents.
“Not only is it our duty to preach and teach for the salvation of others, but the church should be actively involved in protecting the safety of our neighborhood. As a police office in this city, I ride around, and I have observed the SkyCop cameras installed in East Memphis. A cam is such a huge deterrent of crime, probably because of the visibility it provides. I have noticed a drastic reduction of crime in our area. The prospect of being caught on camera doing wrong is a powerful deterrent of criminal activity.”
The East Trigg SkyCop also covers activities near a small church on the corner of Bellevue and East Trigg.
“We originally set out to make our members feel safer because we have a lot of events, and we have a number of them at night. Offering a level of security to the near us is just another added bonus for East Trigg. Are we our brothers’ keeper? Absolutely we are. There is no question about it,” Pastor Beasley said.
The New Tri-State Defender has created this periodic column to highlight the work of deserving non-profits as it continues an ongoing partnership with Kroger’s Delta Division, the Memphis Branch NAACP and the TSD to present Uplift the Community Grants.