SC Police Chief Cites Zero-Tolerance Strategy, Denies Racial Profiling


North Charleston, S.C., police have pulled over black drivers at a disproportionate rate over the past two years, with black men twice as likely to be stopped as their white counterparts, reports The Charleston Post and Courier. Blacks make up about 49 percent of the city’s population but accounted for 65 percent of traffic stops that don’t result in a ticket or arrest. That translates to some 25,000 traffic stops involving blacks. Some critics suspect that these ticketless stops are indicators of harassment or racial profiling.

Police insist it’s a reflection of a strategic, zero-tolerance crackdown on crime in several troubled neighborhoods where the population is predominantly black and where blacks commit the majority of crimes. This approach has paid off with a more than 30 percent drop in violent crime over three years, North Charleston Police Chief Jon Zumalt said. “I am not going to apologize for the strategies we’ve employed in these areas,” he said. “Those strategies are working and the violence is dropping dramatically.” Some civil rights leaders find the numbers disturbing. Dot Scott, president of the Charleston chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said her organization regularly receives complaints from black motorists who say they have been stopped by North Charleston police for no good reason. “The profiling is a real serious problem,” Scott said.

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