Committee presents recommendations for improving Greenville Police Department

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)- Monday, the Citizen Advisory Committee on Public Safety presented Greenville City Council with its recommendations to improve the Greenville Police Department.

The body of citizens was appointed after the death of George Floyd to examine the policies of Greenville Police Department.

The seven-member panel met 24 times in the past few months.

Committee Chairman Rev. Stacey Mills said hearing from the public was an important part of the process. The committee worked with the city to create a survey about attitudes toward the police. More than 3,000 people responded, Mills said.

“There’s a stark divide between how Whites feel about calling the police and how Blacks feel about calling the police,” he said.

The survey found only a quarter of Black respondents felt Greenville Police officers treat all racial and ethnic groups fairly, while more than half of White respondents felt all groups are treated fairly by Greenville officers.

The committee’s report found the current sworn workforce of GPD is 85 percent White and 85 percent male– demographics that don’t reflect the community, which is 26 percent Black, according to the report.

“That’s one of the recommendations that stands out in my mind…that we have an opportunity to build a police force that looks like the community that it serves,” Mills said.

The committee called for an outside expert to audit the hiring process for police officers and a focus on hiring local, “homegrown” officers who are from the communities they serve.

“One of the recommendations that we came away with is forming or reactivating cadet programs in high schools,” Mills said.

Committee members also analyzed the department’s use of force policies– even undergoing a day of simulated training themselves. They recommended increasing use of force training from once a year to twice a year.

They also recommend investing $60,000 in equipment that immediately activates an officer’s body camera when they remove their gun from its holster.

Whether these policy recommendations become policy changes is up to City Council.

Mills said the panel worked with interim Police Chief Howie Thompson throughout the process.

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