November 28, 2017. The Post and Courier.

The city of Charleston is heeding the call of the Charleston Area Justice Ministry to find a new firm to audit its police department.

The city hired Novak Consulting of Cincinnati earlier this year to audit multiple city departments to improve their performance, a scope of work that included a review of the police department. Members of the local interfaith group have argued repeatedly at City Council meetings that the firm doesn’t have enough experience identifying potentially racially-biased police practices.

On Tuesday, Charleston City Council approved a decision made by the Public Safety Committee to remove the police audit from Novak’s contract and begin searching for a new firm to do the job.

Ministry members applauded the decision.

“An audit with concrete recommendations will make our community safer … but only if it is done right,” said Danny Reed, a minister at the Unitarian Church. “We cannot avoid uncomfortable but necessary conversations.”

Novak’s contract, originally budgeted at about $250,000, likely will be adjusted downward to reflect the removal of the police audit.

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said city staff already has met with justice ministry members about the new search for an auditor.

A new selection committee of council members and staff will be appointed to steer the process.

“This is a good direction,” said City Councilman Peter Shahid.

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