The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), the Charleston Area Justice Ministry, the ACLU of South Carolina, the Community Resource Center, and the North Charleston Branch of the NAACP today sent a letter to North Charleston Mayor R. Keith Summey and Police Chief Eddie Driggers urging them to join the growing number of residents and elected officials who have asked the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) to release the collaborative assessment it promised the city. In particular, the letter asks Mayor Summey and Chief Driggers to express this sentiment to the COPS Office directly during their October 30th meeting in Washington, D.C.
The letter also calls for Mayor Summey and Chief Driggers to request that the technical assistance the COPS Office provides be consistent with their original request for help. Specifically, the COPS Office should assist NCPD, while working closely with the community, in promoting “community-oriented policing practices, transparency, professionalism, accountability, community inclusion, fairness, effectiveness, and public trust, taking into account national standards, best practices, current and emerging research, and community expectations,” and with “identifying ways to improve the understanding and trust between local law enforcement and the community at-large.” This is essential given our July 2017 letter to the COPS Office, which detailed allegations of police misconduct and racially-biased policing practices that continue to persist and must be addressed.
Additionally, the letter reiterates our longstanding belief that North Charleston residents, particularly those who have been victims of racially-biased policing practices, must be key decisionmakers in the development of public safety strategies that are needed to keep communities safe. LDF and our North Charleston partners share the commitment to promoting public safety—yet distrust of police by community members undermines crime-fighting strategies. Trust and transparency are key, and North Charleston residents simply cannot be left out of police reform and public safety planning processes if the city is serious about finding a path forward.