Top cops respond to ACLU report ahead of Thursday meeting - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Top cops respond to ACLU report ahead of Thursday meeting

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Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon has responded not only to the American Civil Liberties Union, but also to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, who say cops target African Americans.

Ahead of Thursday night's NAACP meeting, more law enforcement officers share their viewpoints.

"In the report, they made a lot of assumptions," said City of Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen.

The ACLU's report claims African Americans were 2.8-percent more likely to be arrested than their white counterparts for marijuana possession in 2010.

Discussion continues on ACLU's report of racial profiling

Both Chief Mullen and Sheriff Cannon say their tactics don't change when handling African American or white offenders.

"We certainly do not target specific individuals," Mullen said.

News 2 dug for numbers on marijuana arrests in 2012.

"Actually it's about a 50-50 split between the number of white and black residents who were charged with marijuana offenses," added Mullen.

Here's how Charleston County and Mount Pleasant compare. In Charleston County in 2012, deputies arrested a total of 406 people for marijuana charges. Of those, 219 were African American, totaling 53.9-percent of arrests. And in Mount Pleasant, police arrested 249 people. Fifty-five of those were African American, or 22.1-percent, and 194 of those were white.

Meanwhile, Chief Mullen and Sheriff Cannon say the ACLU's report pushes a hidden agenda: legalizing marijuana.

Retired Major Neill Franklin, a 34-year police veteran with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, weighs in.

"You can't argue the fact that the way we enforce these policies, we tend to enforce them in communities of color," said Franklin.

He says we have to back off enforcement and focus more on health.

When asked if he was for legalizing marijuana, Franklin said, "Absolutely. Legalization is merely a form of regulation and control. Currently, we don't have that."

One thing they all agree on is that the issue needs to be discussed.

"I think any information we have opens the door to discussion," said Mullen. "However, I also think that everyone has to be involved in the discussion."

That discussion will continue Thursday night as the NAACP requests the public to join in on the conversation.

If you want to attend that meeting, it's at 6:30 p.m. at the fellowship hall of Morris Brown AME Church.

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