A new crime-fighting initiative in Aiken tonight will hold its second notification to put chronic violent offenders “on notice” of the crimes they are committing.
Aiken Safe Communities held its first meeting Jan. 31 in the City Council chambers, which were packed with community members and organizations, as well as representatives from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. There, 12 men who were invited heard the message from community members and law enforcement officials.
Law enforcement told the offenders the effects of the crimes they committed and that they face stiffer penalties and an expedited trial if they re-offend. Communities, including nonprofit organizations and faith groups, offer opportunities to the offenders to pursue a more productive path, and the offenders are given a pamphlet detailing the services available to them.
So far, three of those 12 men have reached out for help in turning their lives around.
Cynthia Mitchell, community services coordinator for the Aiken Department of Public Safety, said the men have received assistance with getting their GED, clothing or counseling assistance.
“We're hoping more will take advantage of the Safe Communities resources this time,” she said.
Since the first meeting, two of the men have reoffended.
Tyrick Bright, 32, was sentenced to 12 years in prison earlier this month after a jury convicted him of second-degree burglary. The burglary happened December 2011, but because Bright was arrested on Feb. 25 for multiple charges, including drug charges, his burglary case was expedited to trial.
Last month, 22-year-old Kennard Thomas was charged with pointing and presenting a firearm after police said he pointed a gun at a family member in New Ellenton.
The meeting was formally known as a “call-in,” but Mitchell said the City wanted the tone to be less threatening to the offenders.
“This is not intended to be threatening or offensive,” she said. “It identifies more how we view this. We want the language to be clear that you're being put on notice. 'Notification' sends a clearer message that you've been officially notified, and this is your possible path forward.”
The notification begins at 6 p.m. in the City Council chambers.
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime and courts beat for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since August 2012. He is a native of Williston and majored in communication studies at Clemson University.