Community leaders taking action to keep Aiken County safe

Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 6:48 PM EDT
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - Leaders in Aiken are taking action after a string of violence over the last few weeks. The city and county are asking for more money and resources to up their patrols but some officials say there’s a better solution.

Aiken Public Safety knows that patrols and police presence alone can’t solve the problem of violence. So they’re partnering with an organization that is trying to address the issue at the source.

“Roughly a year ago, I ended up getting caught up in a situation wrong place, wrong time. I got shot nine times,” said Romon Williams Sr.

Williams is here to tell the story. We were there that night and his cousin didn’t make it.

“My son has to grow up here, so I want it to be as safe for my son as possible,” said Williams of the Teens After School Center.

He’s using his second chance to help make Aiken safer. He now helps kids at the teen after school center over at Second Baptist Church.

“Not saying that they’re right or wrong, but letting them know that they aren’t by themselves. You are valued. You are important, and you’re loved,” said Christopher Emanuel of the Teen After School Center.

Emanuel says his organization partners with Aiken Public Safety.

“When we have those core relationships in place, it can make a tremendous impact on anyone’s life who is considering violence,” said Cynthia Mitchell, Aiken Public Safety.

Cynthia Mitchell works for Aiken Public Safety to bridge the gap between officers at the crime scene and those who need help.

“What we try to do is when individuals come to us connect them with services that are already available,” said Mitchell.

Connecting those impacted by violence or a bad home life and offering people who want to help.

“A lot of these shootings are not random,” said Capt. Eric Abdullah of the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office.

Abdullah says many of these issues are gang-related or systemic. It’s a cycle of crime that has to be broken.

“It takes more than just law enforcement to police. It takes a whole community,” he said.

And Williams believes it takes parents who want to see their kids succeed. Instead of seeing blue lights.

“When your child comes home, they need to feel that love that you’re worrying about them. They need to know you need to talk to your kids,” said Williams.

The sheriff’s office says they are still working on other ways to stop the violence. Like more investigators to hold people accountable and more patrols to stop violence before it happens.

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