CHARLESTON, S.C (WCBD) – Leaders agree that King Street and the Central Business District are much safer than they were six months ago, after a Count on 2 investigation led to changes to traffic flow, police patrols and more.
City of Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said the proof is in the numbers. “It’s really made a significant difference, we have had a report just this week from the police department as to the positive impact that this change has had,” he said.
The numbers show dramatic drops in crime, since the changes were made. Aggravated assaults on Upper King Street have decreased by more than 52% and sex offenses decreased by 60% in just six months’ time.
While the numbers look good, Mayor Tecklenburg said there is still room for improvement. As far as what is coming in the new year, he said one priority is making these changes more permanent.
Right now, they kind of look like construction is being done: “If we are going to do this on a more permanent basis, rather than those styles of barricades, maybe have some portable planter boxes that look nice.”
Additionally, Mayor Tecklenburg said he wants businesses to have more of a say when it comes to changes that impact them.
“What’s known as a business improvement district, whereby property owners and business owners participate in helping to fund extra services beyond what the city would normally provide… a little tiny extra addition to their property tax, and that will go into a fund that they will make the decisions as to what they will provide.”
While we talked, we brought some of the business leaders’ ideas right to the table to get some answers:
Q: “The only comments I’ve heard is that if they are going to block one section and one lane of King Street off, why not just block the whole street off for the night?” Lawson Roberts, Event Planner
A: “We are doing more than talking about it, we are planning it now…. maybe with a special event or two and have a couple of closings on Upper King Street as well as what we do on Second Sunday.” Mayor John Tecklenburg, City of Charleston
Q: “The scanning of ID’s, if I’m correct with what I read, that is the business have to hire those SLED agents to do so, I just don’t feel like that is necessary.” Jay Pressley, works on King Street
A: “You don’t have to be a SLED agent, you don’t have to be a police officer, the thought would be to ask the bars the restaurants that do late night service to purchase their equipment and their own personnel can do it.” Mayor John Tecklenburg, City of Charleston
Finally, we asked Mayor Tecklenburg and the Charleston Police Department if the last six months had improved relationships between city leadership and the police working together towards a common goal.
“We fully support the police recommendations up there, and they have proven to be effective,” said Mayor Tecklenburg.
Many of these changes will be up for debate in City Council meetings and in committees for months.