NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Community representatives in North Charleston are speaking out about the gun crackdown planned for the city by Mayor Keith Summey and the North Charleston Police Department.
“Our police department is going to start taking guns off of the street again,” said Mayor Summey. “We will be fair. We will be equal.”
Mayor Summey says that racial profiling will not be a part of this new crackdown.
“It’s not profiling if the car has a safety violation or if the car is breaking the law,” said Summey.
Despite Mayor Summey’s assurance, members of the community are split on what a gun crackdown would mean for African-American, Hispanic and poor people in North Charleston.
Community representative Shakem Ahket says that when crime spikes action must be taken.
“When you see crime go up at a certain point in time you have to do what you have to do. I think for black people as a whole it’s time for us to take accountability for what’s going on in our community versus playing the victim,” said Ahket.
But, Pastor Thoman Dixon thinks that the crackdown is a bad idea given the NCPD’s complicated history with race-related issues including the Walter Scott shooting and the ensuing racial bias audit.
“I don’t have a good feeling about this aspect of the racial profiling of it,” said Pastor Dixon. “Many (police officers) misused their authority. The stops were not justified. Ultimately we are setting up situations like Walter Scott where there could have been an interaction resulting in officer involved shootings.”
The NCPD says that before they begin another gun crackdown there will be community involvement and meetings with police.
“We’ll go into the communities that are challenged and we’ll talk with the citizens to figure out what their needs are and what they are looking for out of police officers,” said Assistant Chief Greg Gomes. “These police officers, everything they do is recorded. If a police officer does something wrong there are mechanisms in place to hold them accountable if they make mistakes.”