Collaboration between CRS workers


Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
How many people did you have working out of your office?

Answer:
When I arrived in 1968 there were seven of us. One was stationed in St. Louis, one in Gary, one in Cincinnati and the rest were in Chicago. We expanded to Cleveland, and Milwaukee, Kansas City, Louisville, and then the regions were reconfigured. But at one point I had about thirty people in the hiring chain when they cut us back. In the Nixon years they turned on us and cut us way back, so it went back down to smaller numbers I found when I first arrived.




Nancy Ferrell


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Did you ever call up somebody who was a specialist in a particular area?

Answer:
Sometimes, but sometimes the ego thing didn't let it happen. It didn't happen as much as it probably should have.




Nancy Ferrell


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
You mentioned yesterday that you spent a year on the church-burning task force. Tell me about that.

Answer:
When the public outcry over the church burnings hit its peak, toward the end of 1995, the administration had to do something. There had to be a public response. The group obviously most competent in that field was CRS. However, the staff had just diminished down to forty-five people across the whole country, so they didn't have the resources. So they started calling some of us back on contract if we were willing. If they called me back today and said they had a situation they needed me to help them with, I'd go in a minute. I think most of us have that commitment to the task, regardless of any of the problems we talk about. There is a commitment to the task. I would help in a minute. So I was glad to do that. They put together teams, and I was working out of Birmingham. What we did was go to communities where fires had occurred. Our role was to coordinate with the other federal agencies, the F.B.I., the ATF, the local law enforcement, the U.S. Attorney's office. We all became a part of a team, and it was one of the most effective cooperative efforts I've been a part of. So that became a good model for some future things they might do. Green County, Alabama was where several fires were, so we spent a lot of time there. We did the same kinds of intervention that we would've done in any circumstance. We found out where the tensions were, where the perceptions between the races were, and if it was causing additional tension. Was it likely to erupt into any other violence? In many instances, many communities just did what they needed to do. They didn't need our intervention.







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