Charleston Police council to focus on improving police policies, diversity

VIDEO: Charleston Police council to focus on improving police policy, diversity

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A group assembled to look for ways to improve policing at the Charleston Police Department will meet Tuesday night with several key topics on the agenda.

One of the issues Charleston’s Citizens Police Advisory Council is expected to discuss will be the need for improving diversity. Although police officials say that based on the most recent audits, the Charleston Police Department has a relatively diverse command staff, it goes beyond that. Wendy Stiver, the recently-hired director of research and procedural justice, says having some diversity is the first step, but she says it must happen in every unit, like the SWAT team, the bomb squad and all others.

Diversity in leadership roles would allow members of the community to see someone like them succeeding in the organization.

Stiver says the department still has a majority of white male officers in leadership and special unit roles. They want to find strategies to recruit more women and minorities into these positions.

“If you can see it you can be it,” Stiver says. “So it’s important for young people in our agencies to have leaders that look like them, so women and non-white officers.”

Another goal is to develop and promote qualities they want to see more of in the department. One of them is evidence-based traffic stops.

The group wants to focus on having police focusing on areas prone to traffic accidents when making traffic stops rather than making traffic stops anywhere or using traffic stops as a way to find criminal activity.

Ultimately, officials want to show that officers care about the community and assure procedural justice is a priority.

"Police officers are going to be out there making traffic stops and writing tickets," Stiver said. "But it's important for the person you gets stopped and who gets a ticket to walk about from that encounter and feel like they were treated well and that the traffic stop was procedurally just. In other words, they don't feel that they were targeted unfairly or they were stopped for a ridiculous reason."

The police department has a planned Cultural Diversity Training in July, which will be given by a College of Charleston professor. The course will be specific to the Charleston area and its history.

The meeting is set to begin at 5:30 p.m. and the council is looking for community feedback.

Click here to submit public comments. Comments must be received by noon on Tuesday. You can also use that link to sign up to speak at the meeting, or you can call 843-724-3725 and leave a voicemail.

To listen to the meeting via conference call, you can call 929-205-6099 and enter access code 872-8553-2221.

Copyright 2020 WCSC. All rights reserved.