CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Protesters at Waterfront Park in downtown Charleston on Thursday brought out a special guest to talk about the recently completed racial bias audit of the Charleston Police Department.
The audit lays out 48 recommendations for the department.
Wendy Stiver is a former police officer from Ohio who is now over seeing the implementation of those recommendations.
She says one of the big focuses is on the traffic unit because research suggests that is where a lot of racial bias is prevalent.
“Black Americans are more likely to be stopped and more likely to be searched but less likely to be found with contraband,” Stiver said. “A huge part of this is the organizational structure. Before I even got here Chief Reynolds had already done a lot to reorganize the traffic unit.”
The dangers of a traffic stop is something protester Ade Sala knows all too well.
“I am actually in my early 20’s but to be honest with you if you times it by 3 or 4 that’s how many times I have been pulled over by the cops,” Sala said. “Nothing bad or anything like that. I have always been taught to respect them because my father taught me as a first generation [American] you are who you are in this country so you have to be careful.”
The traffic unit is not the only part of the audit.
Stiver says the police department needs to do more community building in order to prevent crime from happening in the first place.
“It’s a simple matter of going into that area and investing in infrastructure and rebuilding and creating a space so that the community is more likely to protect, use and manage it,” Stiver said. “That can drive the crime out of that area.”
Only one of recommendations has been completed since the findings came out in December. You can find all of the recommendations here.