Our 'Top 10' Strategies for a Safer Charleston and Racially Equal Policing

"Polarity Map" used by Charleston Illumination Project shows how police and community efforts to meet reciprocal goals of improving public safety and protecting individual rights can lead to clashes if all sides on issues aren't heard..

"Polarity Map" used by Charleston Illumination Project shows how police and community efforts to meet reciprocal goals of improving public safety and protecting individual rights can lead to clashes if all sides on issues aren't heard..

The Charleston Illumination Project will present its “top 10” strategies for a safer community with more racially equitable policing on Tuesday evening at 6:30 before Mayor John Tecklenburg and City Council at City Hall -- but here's our own suggested short list:

1.    The Charleston Police Department should replace its skimpy and slow-paced quarterly activity reports with an  all-new interactive website that shows the community, on a daily basis, what crime is happening and where, right down to the street corner.. 

Some local police departments already do this. One of the best sites is the one operated by the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia. The Illumination Project’s list of 86 citizen and police strategies it's in the midst of approving doesn't include revamping the current Charleston police website, but we believe such action is critical to the IP’s mission to "create a safe, secure and livable city where everyone is treated with fairness, [racial and ethnic] equity and dignity."

2.    “Sponsor a re-entry program for felons to aid them in being successful.” -- Citizen Strategy #4 in IP's list of recommendations.

3.    “Assess and evaluate current enforcement practices on traffic stops, investigatory and consensual contacts.” -- Police Strategy #53.

Beyond Catfish Row recently detailed the disparate number of black motorists who have been stopped by City of Charleston police through June of this year -- in sharp contrast to the reduction of such stops by North Charleston police. Police Strategy #53 should be explicit about racial disparities in City of Charleston stops.

4.    “Create a Police Citizen Advisory Council, ensuring broad participation and transparency of selection of citizens, using input from elected leaders, community members and police employees.” -- Police Strategy #66.

5.    “Implement a Police Citizen Advisory Council that works with the police to develop and evaluate policies and procedures involving priority issues…” -- Police Strategy #67.

6.    “Prohibit predetermined numbers for any enforcement activity.” Police Strategy #68.

7.    “Assist police in creating an asset map of potential citizen partnerships and community resources, then prioritize for making connections using high leverage groups such as the Charleston Apartment Association, neighborhood presidents and school leadership.” --Citizen Strategy #72.

8.    “Expand the Faith Community Engagement subgroup to lead and plan various programs with a goal to tap their leadership to be involved in other parts of community.” -- Citizen Strategy #75.

9.    “Partner with educations to identify different approaches to dealing with at-risk youth outside the criminal justice system.” -- Police Strategy # 78.

10.  “Conduct a performance assessment of police department policies and practices utilizing the city’s Performance Innovation Program methodology for more effective policing services.” -- Police Strategy #79.

Mayor Tecklenburg told the Charleston Area Justice Ministry's Nehemiah rally in the spring that such an assessment was in the works.

Our suggestions #2 through #10 are on the IP's list of 86 recommendations, which was presented at its citizen information meetings on Aug. 9 and 11 at Greater St. Luke AME Church, but which won't be posted online until the Tuesday meeting with the Mayor and City Council.

A more robust site displaying Charleston police activity would be a big boost to the IP’s mission.

Regarding our first suggestion -- which isn't on the IP list -- if the Charleston Police Department had a more detailed and up-to-date website, that improvement would speed action on many of the IP’s 86 citizen and police strategies. With such a site, the entire community would have a much better view of crime in the city and where it is most concentrated, especially violent felonies.

We gave Charleston Police Chief Gregory Mullen information about the DC police department's website last month, and later, at the Aug. 9 information meeting, he told us the site sounded like a promising model for the Charleston Police Department. Maybe development of a new and better website of police activity has been incorporated in the IP's revised list of its 86 recommendations, which won't be released until Tuesday night's meeting at City Hall. In fact, we hope it's part of the "Top 10" the IP will be presenting to the Mayor and City Council..

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The Illumination Project is sponsored by the Charleston Police Foundation, a nonprofit group which helps to finance Charleston Police Department activities.

-- TOM GRUBISICH