Partnering with clergy who serve as peacemakers is just one of the wide-ranging and innovative efforts North Charleston, S.C., police have used to drive down the retaliatory bloodshed fueling violence, says the Charleston Post and Courier. With support from city and civic leaders, Police Chief Jon Zumalt has made a concerted push to expand and better target police resources, build community partnerships and attack violence at its roots. Viiolent crime in North Charleston plunged 15 percent last year, a dramatic drop for a city trying to escape its image as one of America’s most dangerous places.
The news was not all good. Burglaries and larcenies increased last year. University of South Carolina criminology professor Geoff Alpert said it appears that North Charleston’s strategies for driving down violence have had a noticeable effect. “I think they are way ahead of the curve,” Alpert said. “The problem they are going to have is maintaining and sustaining it. As the cops get smarter, the criminals get smarter, too.” Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum has been impressed with how open to new ideas the police department has been. “You don’t see the same finger-pointing,” Wexler said. “Even some of the harshest critics of the police department are no longer on the outside looking in. They are on the inside working with police on the same issues.” Police focused on high-crime neighborhoods, adding “saturation patrols” to increase manpower during peak violence periods.