The City of Aiken and the Department of Public Safety are asking residents and community members to come out to the “Cultivating Communities” seminar on Saturday to learn how they can help law enforcement combat crime.

The seminar is free and will begin at 9:50 a.m. on Saturday at the Smith-Hazel Recreation Center on 400 Kershaw St. It will end about 1:45 p.m.

Included on the agenda are presentations by Cynthia Mitchell, community services coordinator for Aiken Public Safety, and Lt. Karl Odenthal with ADPS.

Odenthal said they will take a “multipronged” approach to their presentations on Saturday, discussing what is being done by law enforcement and how they can work with community members.

“My role is going to be talking about the community policing model and what we're doing from the law enforcement side, tying that into the community piece,” Odenthal said. “I'll talk about the department's efforts, community police concepts and how important it is to have that partnership with the community.”

Included in the lineup is a “Community Cafe,” during which attendees will break into small groups and discuss education, community safety and economic development. Everyone will then reconvene, and a representative from each group will provide a summary of what was discussed.

“The numbers are too big,” said Mitchell, adding that as of Wednesday, 65 people have reserved spots. “We'll still have that discussion, we just have to change the format a little.”

Odenthal said the goal of the roundtable discussions is to identify concerns and barriers in the community – “to see if we can determine what a root cause could be,” he said.

He said he'll emphasize the importance of the community's involvement.

“According to the FBI and Bureau of Justice statistics, only 1 percent of crime is rolled up on by an officer,” he said. “You usually get it after the car has been broken into, if somebody comes home and finds something.”

Odenthal said community members often help local law enforcement in spotting crime.

“We have community members help us identify things – be vigilant,” he said. “Without partnering with the community, we're not effective. With the community partnership, it makes our job easier to protect the citizens. These two things go hand-in-hand.”

Everyone from City residents, neighborhood associations and business owners to churches and faith groups and community service providers is encouraged to attend, according to Mitchell.

“We've got parents, pastors, some other service providers,” she said. “Young, old – we have a good cross-section.”

Space for the seminar is limited. Anyone interested in going should call 642-7780.