As of Thursday morning, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies have made 31 drug-related arrests in a six-block radius of the North Charleston community, Charleston Farms. The investigations leading to the arrests took place during a six-month period, and officials say there’s more to come.
United States Attorney Bill Nettles has worked with the North Charleston Police Department, the FBI, SLED and other agencies in a program called STAND (Stop and Take A New Direction), that gives “low-level” criminals a second chance. Nettles says out of the 31 arrests warrants, seven will be considered for another shot, if they comply.
AUDIO: Nettles explains the STAND program, (:22)
STAND was an idea that came from High Point, North Carolina, and Nettles says the success of the program there was “overwhelming,” and he has already seen improvements at Charleston Farms.
Nettles met with the Charleston Farms community last August to discuss some of the initiatives that would be taking place. Here’s how it works:
AUDIO: Nettles says STAND program is all about community involvement (:25)
Nettles says North Charleston Police Chief Jon Zumalt has been of great assistance in helping lead the program for North Charleston.
AUDIO: Nettles say Chief Zumalt is good to work with, (:19)
Chief Zumalt says when he saw all of the agencies working together to combat crime on Wednesday, he was astonished.
AUDIO: Chief Zumalt says STAND is having success in North Charleston, (:05)
At a Thursday press conference, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey spoke to the community with quite an emotional message.
AUDIO: Mayor Summey says living is about what you “do,” (:26)
Summey says the STAND program is not just a short engagement with the community, he says it’s a marriage and he’s in it for the long haul.
AUDIO: Mayor Summey explains uniqueness of program, (:25)
Nettles says for the “low-level” drug criminals, law enforcement will sit down with each one and figure out exactly why they did what they did and how it can be fixed.
AUDIO: U.S. Attorney explains his goals for STAND, (:20)
He says the “career criminals” with a record will not be given a second chance.
Nettles says he will meet with officials and law enforcement agencies in Columbia Friday to implement a similar approach.
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I would like to know if this program will be extended to anyone who is now suffering from a one-time mistake in their past of a similar nature. I see where the phrase “career-criminal” has been used to disqualify some from the second chance opportunity, but what about those who made a mistake and decided on their own that they needed a change and decided to make one. I, myself have a charge of possession with intent to distribute and since have went to college and obtained an Associates Degree, but still have many issues obtaining stable employment. Though this charge was levied against me in June of 2001 more than 95% of employers refuse to hire me. So again I ask will there be any possibilities for those trying to make a change in their lives, or in other words will my state government help me or allow me to continue to be condemned?