By Barney Blakeney
September 18 and 19 CNA Analysis Solutions returned to Charleston to present draft findings of its racial bias audit of Charleston Police Department’s policies and practices for community review. In 2017 the city hired CNA Analysis Solutions to conduct a race bias audit of its police department. Since February CNA has conducted the audit which included data analysis, interviews with CPD Personnel, met with community groups and city officials and held community meetings. The full report is expected late September or early October. Charleston Police officials and the department’s most vehement critics say they welcome the report.
Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds said the department will continue to embrace the audit that began after he took over the helm in April of 2018. The department has opened itself to other police chiefs, research teams and community experts as the audit was conducted. The department will be the beneficiaries of their important and critical expertise and observations, he said.
During the process the department was updated about some concerns such as traffic stops, field contacts made by officers and use of force. All are areas in which the department has room for improvement, Reynolds says. He anticipates making some improvement in leadership development, recruitment and training and in diversity as well. In assessing the report Reynolds said the department won’t be defensive or resistant to change.
“No matter how good you are, you always can get better,” Reynolds said. “Our goal is to grow and build our training capacity. We anticipate a lot of speculation after the report is received,” he said. “At that point we will listen and embrace the information so that we can get even better. We all have to realize that doesn’t happen overnight,” he cautioned, “But we’re committed to building an organization people trust.”
The Charleston Area Justice Ministry has been among the most adamant advocates for the audit. CAJM President Rev. Charles Heyward said because of CAJM’s persistence and participation in the process he is hopeful the report will reflect the input from citizens and that their input will be covered in its findings. He thinks CNA was professional in conducting the audit and that neither city nor police officials had any undue influence on its outcome. The next challenge will be insuring the city funds whatever recommendations come forth, Heyward said.