Charleston Police Chief candidates reveal their plans for the future of the department

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) – The five finalists to become the City of Charleston’s next Police Chief met with leaders and community leaders on Monday.

Last week, the city released a list of the five candidates along with their resumes.

The future of the department

Although each nominee had a unique vision for the department, community engagement was a common theme among all five nominees.

Robert Page, who currently serves as the police chief of Fort Walton, Florida, said he wants to build on Chief Luther Reynolds’ legacy of community-oriented policing. He said he also wants to focus on the mental health of both citizens and officers.

“I want to really engage with the community. I’ve seen the things Chief Reynolds has done with the community from afar. I read the fliers and saw the events that are going to be held in Charleston, and I think I can build on that legacy,” Bagge said.

Shawnta Boston, assistant chief of the Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, police department, said she also wants to focus on community policing. She said it is important to look at every person in society as a human being.

“I’m concerned about every aspect of you as a human being, every person is a human being, and I think that even though we’re police, we’re still responsible for making sure that not only is everyone safe, but everyone has great standing.” Boston said.

Jason Broder, who currently serves as commander of the Charleston Police Department’s Community Oriented Policing Division, said he will focus on Charleston-specific issues using technology to assist in policing.

“I’m focusing on that community aspect, how we can use body-worn cameras and all the other technology out there in our responses and really try to make sure that our officers are responding to the calls that they need to,” Browder said. .

Charleston Police Department Interim Police Chief Chito Walker said he plans to build on Reynolds’ legacy by focusing on community engagement. He said he also wants to develop the skills of officers in the department through training and education.

“We have to educate ourselves, and education is a big part of that. Training, best practices, looking at what’s around the world and taking the things we can use and discarding the things that don’t fit our culture,” Walker said.

Jack Weiss, current deputy police chief with the Charleston Police Department, said Reynolds opened his eyes to public engagement policies, and he believes building on that will help combat the opioid crisis and homelessness.

It opened our eyes to build on our engagement strategies. “I’ve always believed that one of the most important things is with our people, being open and honest with our officers and those who work under me in the police department,” Weiss said.

Community police

Each candidate was asked what role community policing would play in the department if they became the next police chief for the City of Charleston.

Bagg said the little things go a long way in building relationships with the community. Like, for example, an officer helps someone get the keys out of their locked car.

“We should not waste any opportunity to engage the community,” Bagge said.

Community involvement is a must, Boston said, adding that the police department can’t do it alone.

“The community is why we exist, and because we exist because of the community, we are in their home,” Boston said.

Browder said community policing is more than just a phrase.

“We need hard-working officers who understand their neighborhood, and it’s not just where they’re patrolling or walking around, they know who just had a baby, they know who just had a birthday,” Browder said.

Walker said the administration should welcome criticism and open dialogue with the public.

“It’s a two-way dialogue. You have to be willing to have those difficult conversations, we’re not above reproach,” Walker said.

Weiss said community policing has been an important aspect to him throughout his career.

“Engaging with the community is the way to prevent crime, it’s the way to respond to crime, it’s the way to get the information needed to solve crimes,” Weiss said.

Accountability and transparency

Each candidate answered questions about the role accountability and transparency will play in the department under their leadership.

Weiss said it’s important for officers to be open and honest with citizens, explaining why they do what they do.

“A lot of times, a lot of the problems that come up in law enforcement are because law enforcement is in this little silo here, ‘We’re not going to tell people what we’re doing,’ versus being open and honest with people,” Weiss said.

Walker said he plans to continue efforts under Reynolds for the department to be open, transparent, and focused on public education.

“To be educational, to be like a professor to this community when it comes to public safety and what they can expect from us,” Walker said.

Browder said he will focus on evidence-based policing, analyzing data to make sure the numbers line up where they should.

“We would never be able to do this job without the public, so we have to make sure they trust us. Some of that is getting officers out into the areas more frequently to build that trust,” Browder said.

Boston said she grew up in a community that did not trust the police. She said it was important for police to explain why they were there.

“Being very transparent about how police are present is very important while building trust in the community. If people don’t understand why you are there, the walls will go up immediately,” Boston said.

Bagg said he wants to invite the community into the police department to make recommendations about the department, and that transparency is key.

“We do a great job of explaining what we do and how we do things, and I don’t think we do a good job of explaining why we do things,” Bagge said.

(tags for translation) Charleston

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