NCPD’s Preliminary Racial Bias Audit presented to the City of North Charleston

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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – North Charleston City Council members on Tuesday were briefed on the preliminary findings of the North Charleston Police Department Racial Bias Audit

The preliminary report, according to some council members, was not a surprise.

The independent organization, CNA, reviewed incident reports from traffic stops to events that led to the use of force, the agency’s community engagement, training curriculum, and other categories. The review lead to 67 findings and 128 recommendations which CNA says is typical for the size of the department.

Zoe Thorkildsen, with CNA, said “black community members are substantially overrepresented in the arrest data making up almost 60% of the arrests in the city of North Charleston over a multi-year period…we actually see that Hispanics are actually underrepresented in the arrestee data compared to their presence in the North Charleston population, making up just 7.5% of the arrests”.

Citations and warnings tell a similar story. Thorkildsen calling it a “fairly similar pattern,” with black community members overrepresented in both citations and in warnings.

The pattern was also evident in use of force. CNA says 67% of incidents involving use of force by NCPD involved black community members, while just 21% percent involved white community members. 

Racial disparities are present in many of the North Charleston Police Department’s interactions with the community, indicative of potential systemic, organizational, or individual bias, and these disparities are deeply felt by the community. 

Zoe Thorkildsen, CNA 

CNA issued multiple recommendations, including monitoring and addressing the underlying bias.

While the investigation found strong community trust in NCPD Chief Reggie Burgess, the same could not be said for other officers.

Both the community and NCPD detailing training gaps as an area of improvement. 

The community, according to the preliminary report is calling for specifics. Bridgette Bryson, with CNA, says the community called for the police department to train their officers on the history of race in America — specifically the history of race in the North Charleston community.

Key Findings as outlined by CNA:

  • NCPD lacks proper translation services and information for Spanish-speaking residents in the community.
  • Although NCPD emphasizes community-oriented policing practices, not all officers in the department have embraced the importance of community policing.
  • Members of the North Charleston community have expressed a desire to better understand the roles, responsibilities, policies, practices, and operations of the department.
  • Community members have substantial concerns regarding NCPD’s police presence and
  • perceived over-enforcement of certain individuals, community groups, and neighborhoods.
  • NCPD’s School Resource Officer Program has room to improve to better serve the youth of the North Charleston community.
  • Many community members have not filed complaints even after negative experiences with NCPD personnel, and the complaint process is confusing to most.
  • NCPD has a strong commitment to hiring and retaining personnel that reflect the ethnic, racial, and gender composition of the North Charleston community. They have an established plan to specifically recruit women and people of color.
  • NCPD’s officers have not been consistently trained in topics of critical importance for 21st century policing.
  • Community members expressed high confidence in Chief Burgess and his abilities to meaningfully engage with the community 

Community Presentations begin Wednesday, July 21st at the Thomas Evans Community Center at 7801 Dorchester Road in North Charleston from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. 

To view the full draft, click here.

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