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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?
Slager Indictment A Beginning And Unifying Moment
6/10/2015 10:37:07 PM

Charleston County Solicitor Scarlett Wilson at Press Conference announcing indictment of former police officer Michael Slager for murder June 8, 2015.
By Barney Blakeney

On Monday Charleston County’s Grand Jury indicted Michael Thomas Slager for the April 4 murder of Walter Lamar Scott. The North Charleston policeman is charged with shooting a fleeing Scott in the back after a traffic stop.

But Slager’s indictment is only one aspect of the controversial issues that encompasses how police respond to crime in the Black community and moving forward, the relationship it develops between police and the Black community.
Leonard Riley, a co-ordinator for the North Charleston Civil Coalition for Reform (NCCCR), a consortium of community and advocacy groups that include civil rights organizations, neighborhood associations, activist groups and individuals said Tuesday Slager’s indictment is an important step in the process he hopes concludes in Slager spending most of the rest of his life in prison. That would send a message that justice was served. But equally important is the need to insure reforms are put in place that minimize the potential for similar incidents in the future.
“The grand jury did its job and now the trial jury must do its job. But this is just the beginning. This has exposed the city and puts it in a position where it has to do the right thing. And that is to create a review board to look at incidents, past and in the future, such as this and to rid itself of officers like Michael Slager so that it can develop an effective relationship between the police and the citizenship,” Riley said.
Since Scott’s murder protesters have mounted continual challenges to the city’s administration demanding various concessions. Among those requests are demands for a special prosecutor and a citizens review board.

Those efforts culminated in the formation of the North Charleston Civil Coalition for Reform NCCCR. The coalition has asked North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey to allow it to present it’s recommendations for reform to council. Those reforms include ending racial profiling, establishing a community-based police oversight panel, firing officers with multiple credible complaints against them and diversification and inclusion in hiring and procurement.

In their request the coalition said it was formed out of frustration resulting from exclusion and a lack of dialogue of those and other issues. The reforms are designed to increase trust in local government and law enforcement.

Summey responded with an invitation to have the coalition make its presentation to council’s Public Safety Committee, comprised of all 10 council members, June 18. Summey also noted the city is working with U.S. Justice Department Community Relations Service Senior Conciliation Specialist Walter Atkinson to facilitate public input.

The coalition responded, “By working together on these reforms, the NCCCR and the city can be proactive in preventing future violence, resolving destructive conflicts, promote public safety and improve the quality of life for all its citizens.”

Riley said the city is poised to do the right thing, especially since the administration faces re-election in November. “This is the test. It’s a uniting moment. Our job is to make government work for all the people. We can’t let them step back from that.”

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