SAVANNAH, GA (September 19, 2013): Food, candy, a bicycle giveaway and a mini job fair await residents Saturday but the goal is much more serious as Downtown Precinct officers of the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department extend efforts to unite west Savannah neighborhoods with each other and the department.

“Unity in the Community” will be held at the city’s Fellwood Park from 1-3 p.m. with two bouncing houses, snow cones and cotton candy, a cook out, mini job fair and confidential informational sessions by the Chatham County District Attorney’s Office and Metro Criminal Investigations Division detectives.

Two bicycles – one boys and one girls bike that were donated by the Downtown Business Association — will be given away to children in attendance.

Capt. Mike Wilkins’ goal is to unite the West Savannah, Hudson Hill, Sustainable Fellwood and Bay Street-Viaduct neighborhoods with each other and the officers who serve to protect them. He also plans to recognize neighborhood and community leaders in the area.

“These are neighborhoods where we have a tremendous opportunity to build the relationships between our officers and the residents,” said Wilkins, commander of the precinct. ‘We have had four homicides in these neighborhoods so far this year and quite a number of other crimes that can leave residents uneasy. Many are unaware of the multiple services available to them. This event is designed to address those issues.”

Like all five precinct commanders, Wilkins was directed by Police Chief Willie Lovett to seek innovative ways to build relationships with the community and reduce crime. He has pulled ideas from other precincts, his own bag of tricks, and efforts of other agencies. Included is a “Roll Call in the Street” that was very successful in the Central Precinct.

Savannah Impact Program (SIP), a combined effort of SCMPD, probation, parole and juvenile justice officers and the district attorney’s office, will be offering a mini job fair. SIP works with probationers and parolees to reduce recidivism, providing job training and avenues to employment.

Members of the District Attorney’s office and detectives from the Metro Criminal Investigations Division will be available to answer questions on cases for anyone who would like to discuss them.

“The vast majority of the residents of these neighborhoods are hard-working people, many of whom are from families who have lived here for generations,” Wilkins said. “They need to know and feel that their police department is here to serve them. Too often, the view they get is officers that are too occupied with law enforcement functions to extend courtesies. We hope this will help show our neighborhoods the other side of this department.”