Critics cry foul over how new North Charleston police chief was hired

Critics cry foul over how new North Charleston police chief was hired

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - He has yet to sit in the police chief's chair, but already controversy is surrounding the hiring of Eddie Driggers as the new police chief in North Charleston.

Critics are crying foul over the hiring process.

Retiring Chief Jon Zumalt was hired after a nationwide search.

But Driggers, former chief deputy with the Charleston County Sheriff's Office, was hired without any search or input from anyone else in North Charleston government.

"The good ole boy system is still in place, we can see that," said North Charleston NAACP President Ed Bryant.

Bryant said the city should have conducted an open search that could have given others in the police department a chance to apply for the chief's job.

"If you're not an equal opportunity employer, then you cut everybody else out of the picture, okay, and you don't give everybody a fair chance and I think we're trying to get away from in this country," Bryant said.

Mayor Summey responded Thursday.

"Run for mayor and you can make that decision," Summey said. "If I were forming a search committee, it would only be because I didn't think I was ready to find someone locally that could do it."

Under North Charleston's strong mayor, weak council form of government, Mayor Summey has the power to hire the police chief.

"It's his call to hire somebody and I hope we selected somebody that can do a good for us and I think he will," said North Charleston City Councilman Bob King.

Driggers, a chaplain with the Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy, will begin his new job on January 1, 2013. Mayor Summey said that will allow Chief Zumalt to help Driggers make the transition. Zumalt will retire January 31, 2013.

Copyright 2012 WCSC. All rights reserved.