This op-ed was published by Charleston City Paper on September 23, 2020. Read the full piece here. 

If the goal of Charleston’s public safety system is to keep the public safe, then it’s time for Charleston’s city leaders to rethink our system.

To ensure that Charleston is vibrant and safe for all community members, we need to invest in services and resources that benefit all of us. Almost a third of Charleston residents face shelter poverty, where high housing costs force people to forgo other basic needs. Pedestrians and cyclists face one of the highest fatality rates in the country. People in need of mental health or substance use treatment cannot access these services in large part because there are not enough services. The list goes on. 

Yet, Charleston’s definition of public safety is based solely around our police and fire departments. This limited scope places too many Charlestonians in danger on a daily basis. 

Almost a quarter of our total city budget currently goes to the Charleston Police Department. This is because over the years, our political leaders have misguidedly asked police to fulfill roles that they were never meant to fulfill. Read the full piece here. 

Learn more about the Charleston People's Budget Coalition.