Police chief says blacks are not targets of traffic stops

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - North Charleston's police chief said Tuesday that NAACP accusations that his officers are targeting blacks at traffic stops are untrue. NAACP leaders said North Charleston police officers stop twice as many black drivers as white drivers.

"I don't think the police are doing a good job of making adequate representation of the police department when it targets minority citizens," said North Charleston NAACP President Ed Bryant. "That hinders into the area of profiling."

North Charleston Police Chief Jon Zumalt said most of the high crime areas of the city happen to be predominantly African American neighborhoods.

"We started putting more officers in those neighborhoods to try to combat the violence and as a result, more blacks are stopped by our officers."

The chief said his officers must have a legitimate reason to stop someone. Those reasons include speeding, defective equipment or running a stop sign.

He said in most cases, the officers give warnings and don't issue citations.

Zumalt said in 2010, 64 percent of those warnings were issued to blacks and 33 percent to whites. He said as a result of those stops and warnings, violent crime dropped 53 percent.

"It's just a simple matter of math. We're in those neighborhoods and I've said zero tolerance on unlawful behavior," Zumalt explained.

"Crime is one thing, traffic citations and traffic stops is another," said Bryant. "We need to feel like we are part of the solution instead of being part of the problem."

The NAACP is having a community forum on the police department Tuesday night. The forum will be held at Alfred Williams Community Center at 4441 Durant Ave. It runs from 7 to 9 p.m.

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