March 22, 2017. The Post and Courier.

Members of a local interfaith advocacy group are continuing to call for a specialized audit of alleged racial bias within the Charleston Police Department.

During a press conference outside of North Charleston City Hall on Tuesday, members of the Charleston Area Justice Ministry said Mayor John Tecklenburg has resisted calls for such an audit, instead prioritizing an overall audit of all city departments for performance and efficiency.

Charleston recently hired two national firms to carry out the review, which will include the Police Department.

Checks for racial bias are outlined in the contract with one of the firms — Cincinnati-based Novak Consulting Group — which has worked with police departments in Oberlin, Ohio; Carbondale, Ill.; Charlottesville, Va., and 14 other communities around the country.

Justice ministry leaders, however, say that the firm doesn’t have sufficient background in police-related auditing. What’s needed, they say, is a “top rated police auditing firm.”

“I think with the city of Charleston, again, we’re happy with the efficiency audits that are going on,” said the Rev. Jeremy Rutledge, the Justice Ministry’s co-president. “What we’d like is a group with particular expertise in policing practices and racial bias.”

Rutledge and other Justice Ministry members say they’d like to see Charleston take similar steps as North Charleston, which invited the U.S. Justice Department to review its policing practices.

While that process was not an audit, it led to the creation of the North Charleston Citizens’ Advisory Commission on Community-Police Relations, which met for the first time this month.

Justice Ministry leaders also delivered a letter to North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey on Tuesday requesting a meeting to discuss the future of the commission.

“This audit is just the first step,” said Arthur McFarland, a Justice Ministry member. “Even with North Charleston … there are further steps to be taken.”

View original article.