N. Charleston community gives thoughts on discussion around police racial bias audit

Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 11:32 PM EDT
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The North Charleston community is looking to change some policies and procedures within the city’s police department.

The group CNA, which is conducting a racial bias audit of the police department, held one of the first in-person listening sessions to get the public’s input on Tuesday night.

“This is an opportunity for members of the North Charleston community to come down and speak with us and just share with us about public safety and the police department’s operations within the city,” CNA Senior Research Scientist Zoe Thorkildsen said.

Thorkildsen says the goal of the independent assessment is to produce feasible actionable recommendations to the department.

Anthony Scott, the brother of Walter Scott who was shot and killed by a former North Charleston police department in 2015, attended Tuesday’s session with his wife Denise.

They say a racial bias audit is needed within the department, and they want more community engagement and empathy.

“We believe improvement is needed, and with the audit the improvement can take place. Once they know what’s wrong, they can improve that,” Scott said. “Policing needs to be done with a sense of empathy, and if they start using empathy there would be a lot less citizens killed at the hands of police officers.”

The group held virtual discussions back in April to get community members’ initial thoughts on what needs to change within the department. They are hosting a series of community listening sessions to gather input about policies, practices, and procedures.

During the meeting, community members said there is a real need for police officers to understand the communities that they serve and work in and treat individual with respects. They also stressed the need for more training for officers, as well as the need to make sure they are being recruited appropriately and assessed well during the process.

North Charleston Police Chief Reggie Burgess says they have been consistently working to train officers on recognizing racial bias and creating more trust into the community, things he says have always been important to him.

He also says he wants to hear from the public about what the department could improve on.

“If there’s something we need to work on and be better, we will get better at that with CNA. If there’s something we’re doing that’s good, I want to get even better at that,” Burgess said.

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