Charleston Police hold community discussion on safety of traffic stops

City of Charleston officials say they never want what happened to Tyre Nichols to happen to someone in our city.
Published: Feb. 9, 2023 at 11:35 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 9, 2023 at 11:57 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - City of Charleston officials say they never want what happened to Tyre Nichols to happen to someone in our city.

So, on Thursday night there was an open conversation about policing in the Lowcountry from the Charleston Human Affairs and Racial Conciliation Commission.

Charleston Police Department says they are still working on recommendations taken from data on a racial bias audit that was conducted in 2019. They found that almost 20% of the recommendations were about traffic stops.

“Situations like this, the George Floyd, the Tyre Nichols situation, it is a triggering that takes you to a place that you don’t want to go,” Alvin Johnson, Charleston HARCC commissioner, said.

Luther Reynolds, Chief of Police for Charleston Police Department, gave a statement in a webinar about this incident.

“We see no excuse or rationalization for this conduct,” Reynolds said. “The behavior of these officers violates everything that is good and decent, which law enforcement in America stands for and must represent.”

The Charleston Police Department also partnered up with the Citizen Advisory Police Council to go over what to expect if you are pulled over. CPD says they have changed the term traffic stop to motor vehicle stop to prevent people from thinking they can only be pulled over for a traffic violation, such as speeding or driving under the influence.

A motor vehicle stop requires probable cause or a reasonable suspicion of another crime.

The police department’s policy requires officers to identify themselves, provide a reason for a stop, not reasonably extend the stop, answer questions and provide a warning or a citation if you are pulled over.

Department data states they had a total of about 23,000 motor vehicle stops in the last two years. The data shows almost half of drivers pulled over by citywide police -- and about 30% pulled over by the traffic unit -- are black.

“I want to make sure that we’re using this data in a way that is effective first,” Jason Bruder, Captain of Charleston Police Department Patrol Division, said. “That we’re contributing to our communities and solving their problems. And then we’ll start to focus on how do we mitigate any negative outcomes that may happen.”

Rev. Adam Shoemaker with the Human Affairs and Racial Conciliation Commission (HARCC) says having more diversity at every level will create a healthier city.

“It’s not about like how many police can we put on the streets, right?” Shoemaker said. “Which, I think, sometimes is the knee-jerk reaction. That’s not always going to be the right solution.”

The HARCC says this kind of conversation is only the beginning. They say they encourage people to attend the city’s public safety committee meeting on Monday at 2 p.m.