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N. Chas Top Cop Also Wants To Build As the City Grows
5/7/2014 3:32:31 PM

North Charleston Police Chief Eddie Driggers
By Barney Blakeney

North Charleston Police Chief Eddie Driggers grew up in the city where he now is the top law enforcement officer. He lives close to the high school he attended, North Charleston High, and has spent the entire 31 years of his law enforcement career in the city. So when it comes to tackling crime in the city that is designated one of the nation’s most dangerous, he sees the problem from a community perspective.

When 16-year-old Ty’Quan President was gunned down as he sat on his bicycle talking with friends on Sorentrue Avenue April 21 becoming the city’s sixth homicide victim so far this year, Driggers already was reaching out to groups and individuals in the community in an effort to reduce crime.

‘We Are One’ is a new community initiative Driggers will implement, the first since he was named chief January 2013. As part of the department’s continuing effort to eliminate criminal violence, the initiative will bring together leaders representing public and private entities who hopefully will use their forums to play an active role in crime prevention, awareness and to provide information on social and economic services available. Most importantly, the initiative hopes to send the message to criminals that the community is standing together to make neighborhoods safe.

Driggers still lives in the same neighborhood where he grew up. His father was a small business owner, known throughout much of the community. He embraces the village concept and quickly asserts that the community police concept is not new and isn’t his idea. He hopes North Charleston says its had enough of violent crime.

After 31 years as a cop - beginning as a beat cop with the City of North Charleston and eventually rising to the number two spot in the Charleston County Sheriff Department before retiring in 2006 then joining the Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy two years later until coming out of retirement last year - Driggers knows that it takes more than policing to impact crime. He says it takes building relationships with the various segments of the community.

He said he realizes that he is first a policeman, but with that job comes a duty to work on some quality of life issues. That’s where he hopes building relationships with other community entities will enable his department to be proactive in reducing violent crime.

The department will continue other initiatives that have proven successful like its neighborhood resource officers and saturation teams in area hotspots. But it also will add a few twists such as reintroducing the Stand Program that offers non-violent offenders employment and other alternatives to crime. A newly formed cops athletic program is sponsoring nine new baseball teams this summer.

Driggers said he also will look internally to see how the department can better itself. He’s taking a hard look at complaints filed against officers and notes that the department has initiated more investigations against officers than it has complaints initiated externally. Everyone should be concerned about police abuse, he said.

He’s proud of the direction the city is taking as it continues to grow, Driggers said. He wants the perception of its police department to change with that growth.

“There are some areas we have to work on,” Driggers said, adding as he reiterated his emphasis on building community partnership, “The operative word there is we.”

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