North Charleston, S.C., Police to Have DOJ Review

     (CN) – The Justice Department on Monday announced it will conduct an official review of the North Charleston, South Carolina, police department, a year after a former officer shot and killed an unarmed black motorist.
     U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles announced the comprehensive review Monday morning during a news conference at North Charleston City Hall.
     The evaluation was actually requested by the city’s mayor, Keith Summey, who told reporters he has confidence in his police force, but believes that there is always room for improvement.
     The Justice Department said the intent of its review is to provide technical assistance to the city police on managing critical incidents, enhancing their community policing strategy and increasing their community engagement efforts.
     The DOJ will work with the North Charleston Police Department to develop a report that specifically identifies ways to improve the understanding and trust between local law enforcement and the community at-large and other issues that may surface during the assessment phase, officials said.
     Just last week, the Justice Department announced it was filing federal charges against former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager, who is awaiting trial for the April 4, 2015, fatal shooting of Walter Scott after the unarmed black man ran from a routine traffic stop.
     The indictment unsealed May 11 charged Slager with obstruction of justice, unlawful use of a weapon during the commission of a crime, and depriving the victim, Walter Scott, of his civil rights.
     Slager’s attorney, Andy Savage called the indictment “an unprecedented step by the Department of Justice. It seems very extreme and the timing is very interesting. It really feels as if Officer Slager is carrying the burden of many past cases that were handled differently.”
     Slager’s trial on state murder charges is scheduled to begin in October. He has pleaded not guilty to the federal charges.
     North Charleston is now one of 10 communities across the country that are undergoing a Justice Department review. Typically, such an evaluation looks at policies and procedures and the racial and demographic makeup of the force, compared to the community as a whole.

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