Charleston Police Department reflects on lessons learned after Summer protests and riots

Charleston County News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – It has been nearly six months since riots broke out in Charleston, and for many who were downtown when they began, the memories of that night will last forever.

It was the evening of May 30th when businesses were looted, patrol cars were set on fire, and chaos reined in the Holy City.

Law enforcement was admittedly underprepared, having never dealt with anything of that caliber. Despite agencies’ best efforts and dozens of arrests made, there was a tirade of criticism against local police and the city’s response.

But now, changes are coming, and they will affect all of us. The Charleston Police Department is working to make changes so something like the May 30th riot never happens again.

“The night of May 30th, we had officers reporting from all over the city, and quite frankly, all over the Lowcountry,” said Captain Jason Bruder with the Charleston Police Department. “There wasn’t just time and organization to say ‘okay, here is your specific assignment for tonight.’”

Capt. Bruder commands the Special Operations Division for the Charleston Police Department. He said that after the riots and protests, things have not stopped changing.

“Those protests have continued. It’s not like it happened on May 30th and then stopped,” he said.

In the aftermath, police released a 60+ report of what went right and what we wrong with their response.

Among the biggest issues – too many radio channels were used, and not all officers were briefed before hitting the streets.

Now, Bruder is one of the officers in charge of making changes in the Charleston Police Department. “It’s given me a different outlook on how out actions are being perceived,” he said.

Some of the changes can be seen on CPD premises, like new training sessions.

“Having commanders prepared to manage these incidents, and (finding) themselves in a variety of places – what you do as a staging manager is going to be different than what you do as a field commander,” he said.

Other changes are more indirect, like working on prison reform and implementing changes after a racial bias audit.

“How do we take this movement that moving out there, and proceeding, and harness that energy into things we have been working on in the department over the last few years?”

And while the workload may be significant, the hope for a better future is forging a path forward.

“To me, it’s an exciting time to be able to be in law enforcement and to be able to see these changes and know we are doing better for the community,” said Capt. Bruder.

If you are interested in reaching out to the Charleston Police Department about any concerns you may have, you are encouraged to email them at

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