New North Charleston police chief 'hitting the ground running'

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The last 72 hours have been very busy for North Charleston's new top cop. Chief of police Eddie Driggers has already had to deal with a murder, a police chase and two fatal accidents on Interstate 526 in his first three days on the job.

"You're pretty much hitting the ground running," says Driggers, who envisioned a very different start to his time as Police chief.

After being sworn in Monday, Driggers was taking things slow, learning the system set up by former chief Jon Zumalt and focusing on getting his feet wet.

But after two fatal accidents on Interstate 526, a police chase and the first murder of 2013 on Ward Ave on Wednesday, Driggers had to jump right in.

"It's been a very busy few days," says Driggers, who wasn't surprised by the major events in the least.

Shortly before 6 p.m. Wednesday, Driggers and his officers responded to a call about possible shots fired on Ward Avenue. When officers arrived they found a Ford SUV with Ladson inside.

According to an incident report, 21-year-old Akee Ladson was found in the passenger seat leaning over the vehicle's center console, shot to death.

Chief Driggers wasn't behind his desk Wednesday night, he says he got into formation with his officers to make a perimeter around the area.

Witnesses told police they saw two people run from the scene after shots were fired.

After securing the area, the police chief and his officers started the search for the subject.

Driggers says he 'got home late that night.' Less than 18 hours later, his officers connected 20-year-old Jalann Lee Williams and 33-year-old Robert Mitchell II with the murder and arrested them.

"I'm proud of last night," said the police chief. "I'm proud of that."

Driggers says the type of police work his officers did late Wednesday night and into Thursday is what he wants to continue under his watch.

He wants to lead by example. Be in the field. "Be a police."

"If someone comes into North Charleston and they're planning on committing a crime we're going to be hunting you," said Driggers.

North Charleston's top cop says even though his first three days on the job have been filled with major incidents he's ready for anything the job throws at him.

Looking ahead he says his goal is not to change what former chief Jon Zumalt created during his 11 years serving the City of North Charleston and it's people, but refine it.

"Right now you take a look at what is working, what needs polishing and you certainly take advice from people on the ground doing it," said Driggers, who will be relying heavily on officers who know how the system works.

"Short term goal is to keep the community involved. Long term would be to not only educate ourselves on how we can serve them better but how they can help us better," said Driggers.

Driggers watched how strong community connection helped Chief Zumalt slash the number of violent crimes in half in the past decade and he says he will continue what the former chief did best.

"It's like swimming in the pool," said the new chief. "We're all in the deep end, this community, but we're going to swim and we're not going to let anybody drown."

Under Chief Zumalt homicides in North Charleston decreased in a big way in the last five years. In 2006 there were 28 murders within city limits compared to five in 2011.

Driggers says with help from the community he hopes those numbers continue to decrease under his watch.

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