Aiken law enforcement meet with violent offenders to stop crime - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

Aiken law enforcement meet with violent offenders to stop crime

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AIKEN, SC (WFXG) -

"Violent crime is no longer going to be tolerated in the city of Aiken," says City Manager Richard Pearce tells the 11 violent offenders gathered at Aiken City Hall.

It was a message law enforcement officials used to put these offenders on notice Thursday night.

It was simply put to the young men- there are only so many ways you can go.

"You have three opportunities as one of the offenders," says Aiken Public Safety Chief Charles Barranco. "You can end up dead, you can go to prison, or you can do the right thing."

It was all part of the first call-in of the Aiken Safe Communities Action Team.

Young offenders with a violent past were called to sit in front of law enforcement officials from several local agencies, as well as several federal agencies, including the ATF, DEA, and FBI.

Members of the Aiken community were in attendance as well.

The goal is to have the young men turn their lives onto the right path.

"Our hopes tonight are for these offenders that were here to make healthy choices to be a positive impact on our community," says Barranco.

He says it's a shift in philosophy he hopes to see better the city of Aiken.

"We've tried to arrest our way out of situations, and that is not always useful," Barranco says. "We think by teaming up with our community, those options will grow for us."

But the offenders were warned: if arrested again for a violent offense, law enforcement will work swiftly to put them back behind bars for a long time.

But this was not a meeting to condemn, says ASCAT Spokesperson Shelby Saunders. It's about bringing the young men back into the community.

"We have to let them know that we do count on them," Saunders says. "We don't look at them as an ex-con, or "Oh, you're on probation. You're going to stand out.' No, these are people just like you and I."

He believes Thursday's meeting reached the men.

"I saw attentiveness," Saunders says. "I saw individuals that were very concerned."

Now he hopes to see positive changes in their lives.

After Thursday's call-in, ASCAT will meet with each offender one-on-one for a Needs Assessment. After the assessment, ASCAT will work with community resources to try and fill those needs.

Also, they say they will hold call-ins like Thursday's every three months.

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