Two North Charleston, S. C. police officers at the center of an innovative program to reform would-be criminals are in Anderson today.
"A lot of people don’t trust the police, so once we built that trust in them and they started to realize they needed the help and wanted the help," says North Charleston Officer Jamel Foster.
Foster and his partner, Charity Prosser, are in charge of the "STAND" - "Stop and Take A New Direction" Program. They began the program in 2011 with eight men all facing drug charges. If the men passed the program, the pending charges against them would be dropped.
Since then, four of the men have changed their lives. They've received more education, gotten clean and held onto jobs. All with community and police help.
Prosser and Foster say if someone has a desire then they too can change their own life."There’s nothing wrong with failure, get back up dust yourself off and you’ll be stronger I would say just keep moving, keep going fight back," Prosser says.
South Carolina U. S. Attorney Bill Nettles says it's all about a change in mindset. He says rather than using incarceration as a solution to the war on drugs, it should be used as a tool.
"We instead use the threat of incarceration to change lives," Nettles says.
According to Nettles, the neighborhood where "STAND" was originally used in North Charleston has seen a 40% reduction in crime. He says a neighborhood in Columbia that used a similar program has seen a 33% reduction in crime.
The pair are speaking about "STAND" at a free event tonight, July 25, at the Anderson Civic Center. It starts at 6:30 P.M.
Sponsored by the AnMed Health, the Anderson Police Department and the United Way of Anderson County, this candid conversation with the STAND officers is part of the Upstate Movement…107 Days of Nonviolence sponsored by FM station 107.3 JAMZ. The purpose of the 107 Days Movement is to inspire youth and adults of Upstate South Carolina to collaborate, communicate and facilitate events that encourage nonviolence.
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