By Barney Blakeney
Efforts to address crime and policing continue as area homicides increase. Earlier this month, the Charleston Police Department received the final report of the Racial Bias Audit conducted by CNA. But even as the department vowed to use the opportunity to show its continued commitment to transparency and engagement with the community and to “make us better as a department and strengthen the bond between the police and the community,” as stated by Chief Luther Reynolds, November 16 the city experienced its eighth homicide this year.
By November 18 North Charleston had experienced 24 homicides to lead the County in murders and Charleston County Sheriff Office had 11 murders in its jurisdiction. As of November 18 there had been 50 murders in Charleston County. There were 24 homicides in North Charleston in all of 2018.
While Charleston police administrators have embraced the audit begun in February to examine: 1) Use of Force; 2) Traffic Stops and Field Contacts; 3) Internal/External Complaints; 4) Recruitment and Hiring; and 5) Community Engagement – the department has had to address alarming homicides. Most recently Charleston police investigated a November 19 homicide that occurred at a West Ashley motel on Savannah Highway. Three days earlier Charleston police investigated a murder in a West Ashley apartment complex parking lot. A suspect has been arrested in the November 16 incident.
While North Charleston struggles with persistent homicides and Charleston works to hold its 2019 homicides below the 11 the city had in 2018, Charleston County Sheriff Capt. Roger Antonio hoped for a “peaceful” Thanksgiving as he reported the office’s 11th homicide this year. The victim’s body was found in a field off Kimbell Road near Midland Park Road in an unincorporated area of North Charleston. Since August the Sheriff’s Office has had six homicides in its jurisdiction. North Charleston had 17 homicides by mid-August.
Despite that by April there only had been three homicides in the City of Charleston and six in North Charleston, those numbers doubled in Charleston and almost tripled in North Charleston by August. Officials disputed there was an uptick in homicides.