Community reacts to CPD racial bias audit preliminary results

Local News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A third party organization conducting a racial bias audit on the Charleston Police Department released their preliminary findings Wednesday.

The Center for Naval Analysis has been assessing several aspects of the Charleston Police Department for a few months. They are analyzing data over a five year period between 2014 and 2018. CNA is assessing traffic stops/field contacts, use of force, internal and external complaints, community engagement, recruitment, hiring and personnel practices. Wednesday, CNA presented their preliminary findings to Charleston city council and the public.

Thus far, CNA has interviewed 75 CPD personnel and 12 city and community leaders. They have also held six community members with more than 290 community members present. The data they have gathered so far is the following:

Traffic Stops:

  • 79,077 traffic stops ending in warning
  • 60,598 traffic stops ending in citations

Field contacts: 54, 206

Complaints:

  • 201 internal complaints, 401 allegations
  • 87 external complaints, 187 allegations

Use of force: 1,355

The group has made 46 findings and 67 recommendations. The bulk of the findings say the department lacks policies, strategic plans, auditing and reporting mechanisms and diversity.

Other findings include the department improperly documenting use of force incidents, not conducting annual performance reviews, no leadership training, disparities in traffic stops and more.

“We are embracing this audit and the findings,” Charleston Police Chief, Luther Reynolds said. “They aren’t all flattering, but they are critical.”

CNA found that black drivers were twice as likely to be searched during a traffic stop where a warning was issued. CNA also said black men were involved in 53% of use of force incidents, and young black men under 25 were involved in 23%.

“You don’t need any statistics to confirm that just look around,” Gwendolyn Robinson said.

Robinson was one of many community members who attended the community meeting Wednesday. She said there is a lot of work that needs to be done.

“We can change these things,” she said. “A police department should not exist with the mentality that they are external to the community. They need to treat people they want their wives treated, their sons treated and their parents”

Chief Reynolds says the department has a lot of work to do and he will hold everyone accountable.

“We will have a tracking system and a mechanism where we will be accountable to our communities to making these changes the ones that are necessary and important and appropriate to make, which is the majority of these recommendations,” Reynolds said. ” As we pivot, as we incrementally go into those directions, some of those have costs attached to them some of those take time because of trainings , so it will take time, but each one of these we want to talk about it publicly, we want to be accountable.”

The report also includes 67 recommendations. Many of those include implementing policies, strategic plans, community engagement programs, trainings, auditing procedures, and implementation.

Robinson believes the community meeting was effective and believes the community left feeling optimistic and positive about forward progress. CNA and CPD say they are leaning on the community to hold them accountable.

Moving forward, CNA will incorporate the feedback that was given and make any necessary revisions. A draft report will be delivered to the City of Charleston September 30th and the final report will be delivered early October.

CNA will host a couple more community meetings:

9/19: 9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. at Bible Way Baptist Church 2019 Savage Road

9/19: 12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. at St. James Presbyterian Church 1314 Secessionville Road

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