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North Charleston Police
Do you think that the North Charleston Police Department has taken appropriate steps towards reform a year after the Walter Scott shooting?
Lack Of Faith And Rain Kept Public From COPS Listening Session
6/8/2016 5:02:49 PM

Louis L. Smith, executive director of the Community Resource Center, addressed the Department of Justice Office Community Oriented Policing Services representatives at its community listening session June 6 at The Alfred Williams Center in North Charleston. Photo: Tolbert Smalls, Jr.
By Barney Blakeney

As part of the Department of Justice Office Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) comprehensive review of the North Charleston Police Department a community listening session was conducted June 6 as the area was drenched by torrential rains from tropical storm Colin. Only a few dozen residents braved the weather to give reviewers their thoughts about the police department and its interaction with the community.

Asked why he thought so few residents attended the initial listening session, North Charleston NAACP President Ed Bryant simply offered, “It was pouring down raining.”

The COPS review requested by city officials in April only can make recommendations for corrective action. The NAACP and other civil rights organizations want the DOJ to conduct a Patterns and Practices investigation that would mandate change.

The number of residents attending the session reflects the community’s apprehension, Bryant said. Still COPS officials should have gotten a sense of the public’s feelings of frustration and disrespect, he said.

National Action Network State Co-ordinator Elder James Johnson said more residents didn’t show up for the listening session because most residents have no faith that the review process will result in positive change.

Like Bryant, Johnson repeated the demand for a substantive investigation of North Charleston Police Department that would focus on examples of discriminating policing like the fact that 60 percent of all traffic stops involve Black drivers in the city where only 47 percent of residents are Black.

“We welcome the COPS review, but we’re looking at a police department with a 20-year history of abuse and police occupation in the black community under the present administration,” Johnson said. “People don’t want a review, people want to know what are they going to do,” he said.

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