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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?
North Charleston Police Department: Cat Out of the Bag
9/16/2015 5:16:01 PM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

It looks like former North Charleston police officer, Michael Slager won’t be going home anytime soon and neither will Walter Scott. Slager told Circuit Judge Clifton Newman he was not a flight risk and he wanted to go home to see his newborn son. Scott’s family would love to see him come home too but that is never going to happen. Scott is dead after being shot in the back several times by Slager during a “miscellaneous” traffic stop for a broken brake light. It’s the light that appears in the rear window of some newer model cars. Some cars don’t even have the third brake light. So, what was the big deal about Scott’s missing brake light? Put a pin right there! After careful consideration of the arguments for and against Slager’s release, Judge Newman denied Slager‘s bond. Judge Newman ruled on Monday that "The court finds that the release of the defendant would constitute an unreasonable danger to the community, and the request for release on bond should be denied.”

The tragedy in Walter Scott’s case is Scott’s death could have been prevented. If you ask my opinion, but no one did, the North Charleston Police Department should be named as an accessory before the fact in Scott’s murder. Information coming out of Slager’s bond hearing is North Charleston Police Department had a quota system in place that officers make at least three minor traffic stops per shift daily. That’s a whole lot of stopping going on. The cat is finally out of the bag. Now, the public knows why so many black and brown motorists in North Charleston were targeted, pulled over and ticketed for such minor infractions as broken tail or license plate lights. There are even horror stories of bicyclists being pulled over and ticketed. It’s the North Charleston Police Department’s quota system that set Slager onto that fateful path the morning of April 4 and subsequently led to Scott’s death. Did Slager meet his quota the morning he encountered Scott? It would be interesting to know the answer.

You can’t help but empathize with Slager wanting to see his newborn son. On the other hand, Scott’s mother would love to see her son too but that will not happen. There are no winners in this case, only losers.

The disturbing revelation of quota stops coming out of Slager’s hearing is how many traffic stops targeted black and brown motorists disproportionately and resulted in excessive fines and even jail time.

For years, complaints surfaced about the North Charleston Police Department profiling particularly of African American males. The NAACP and NAN (National Action Network) raised concerns about the department’s disturbing practice and have come under harsh criticism for their push to change things within the department.

Had it not been for the insight of the young man with the camera going public with what he saw and captured with his camera, North Charleston Police Department (NCPD) would still be denying allegations of unfair practices within the department. The problem is when you have a mandate from the top it affects those at the bottom. Officers are under pressure to meet their quotas even if it means pulling over people for minor violations.

A lieutenant with the NCPD said the quota practice was used to motivate lax police officers, dah! In the world of work, lax folks are written up and fired if they do not meet job requirements—not retained and rewarded. If police officers would just do the job they are sworn to do, there would not be a need for quotas. There are enough folks committing major traffic violations that go unchallenged every day. Oftentimes, they are the hard stops.

Officers don’t always see many of the violators because they are too busy profiling and locking up black folk. The quota system is one sure way of creating revenue for the city. Folks are locked up that can’t pay their fines. Then penalties are attached to the fines when they are not paid on time; and, when they fail to pay because they are poor and unemployed, they end up in jail; and, when they end up in jail, those with jobs lose their jobs and end up with criminal records.

This quota thing got me thinking about how many persons have been unlawfully stopped, ticketed and/or defamed by this good ole boy quota system. How many? I think an investigation is in order. Now that the cat is out of the bag, what do y’all think?

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