Using Haircuts To Cut Crime In Crosland Park - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Using Haircuts To Cut Crime In Crosland Park

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Aiken, SC -

You may not think of cutting hair when you think of cutting crime, but in Aiken public safety officers have made that connection.

Take rising first grader Chevy; he's really excited about his new cut, but that cut and school supplies aren't all that he and his brother CJ are taking home.  While they were in those chairs, they made a new friend:

"You can tell the police officer, 'Hey, how you doing.'"

Chevy says it simply, but that's actually a really important point.

"I get to know their names, they get to know my name," Sgt. Matt Braxton says of events like free back-to-school haircuts.  "The kids are shy, apprehensive at first, but then I walk up, introduce myself, and before it's over, we're friends."

Those friendships, even when built around a cool cut, can be key to both solving and preventing crime.

"In the long run this is very important," Braxton says.  "A lot of crimes in Aiken are solved by community, interaction, citizens being able to talk to police."

Without this kind of event, those friendships might not happen.

"Especially in this neighborhood, kids see negative interaction, police officers arresting people, putting them in jail," he says, "this is a positive interaction."

But, after warming up in the barber's chair, with a conversation held over the buzz of a razor, these kids get to see people they look up to.

"I'm a retired police officer," says neighborhood volunteer Jack Knox.  "It let's them know we're human, our job just happens to be being a police officer.  We want the best, we want the best for you. You can pick what you want to do, you can be a police officer, but you can be anything you want to be."

And with those kind of relationships, they believe these cuts can cut back on crime:

"You have to get to know kids to get them on the right track," says barber James Patterson.  "You can't do that by saying, you got to do that, you gotta be a relationship, you gotta be a parent to them."

"I hope the relationships last a lot longer than these haircuts," Braxton adds.


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