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Do you think that the North Charleston Police Department has taken appropriate steps towards reform a year after the Walter Scott shooting?

 
North Charleston May Implement Police Review Board But The City Needs More To Stop Homicides
Published:
8/24/2016 4:03:13 PM


North Charleston City Council may implement a police advisory board in the wake of increased homicides. In June, the police department held a “citizens advisory commission on community relations” meeting to gain feedback in hopes of improving relations between people and those with a badge. Police Chief Eddie Driggers (pictured) was in attendance for the meeting.
 
By Barney Blakeney


As the number of homicides in the city increases, North Charleston City Council this week will decide about the development of a controversial police advisory board. We asked councilmembers if that should be a priority.

The city experienced its 22nd homicide last week in a race to finish the year with the highest recorded number of murders in recent history. North Charleston has recorded the county’s highest number of homicides for the past three years.

But as the death count on city streets mounted, the April 2015 police shooting death of Walter Scott by policeman Michael Slager overshadowed focus on the city’s double-digit homicide rate. Community activists renewed calls for a citizens review board even as they criticized law enforcement tactics in black communities. Of the 22 homicides in the city, 18 of the victims are black.

North Charleston councilmembers say although the murder rate in the city continues to climb, the community specifically has asked for a police review board. District 7 Councilman Sam Hart said that’s what the black community wants. Other initiatives may be important but the specific request has been for a review board.

District 9 Councilman Bob King echoed Hart’s response. Too many conflicts turn deadly and while some police initiatives are being implemented to impact violent behavior, dynamics that include raucous behavior in communities, illegal drug activity and uncooperative residents fuel the violence that result in murder, he said.

North Charleston City Council has two councilmen named Michael Brown. Michael A. Brown, who represents District 1, is the newest elected to the council. Both say a police review board is important, but other things also must happen if the city is to reduce homicides.

Michael A. Brown said the trust and transparency that can come through the implementation of a police review board would facilitate better accountability and relations between police and the communities they serve. But a multifaceted strategy that incorporates better education and economic opportunities has to accompany that effort.

The mother of crime is poverty, Brown said. The perpetrators of the city’s most recent homicides seem younger and younger, he said. They are victims of a failed public school system that seems almost designed to spit out young boys who are below grade level in school.

Public education and economic opportunities must be enhanced to take the city’s crime dynamics from response to prevent, he said. A police review board has its place, but the community must begin a more proactive approach, he said.
 

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