South Carolina NAACP sends letter to Beaufort Co. Sheriff’s Office claiming policing disparities

Published: Jun. 8, 2022 at 6:04 PM EDT
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BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - South Carolina’s branch of the NAACP is expressing concerns over the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.

“We found some disturbing disparities that we’re very concerned about,” Anson Asaka, Associate General Counsel said.

In a letter to the sheriff’s office, the NAACP says they reviewed five years of data and lay out their specific concerns.

“The sheriff’s office issued warrants and citations and made arrests at far higher rates for African-Americans compared to their white counterparts.”

The sheriff’s office said they have trainings and analysis systems in place to minimize racial profiling.

“I feel confident that any of the concerns the NAACP had are addressed by our policies and procedures and not only are those policies and procedures in place, but the statistical analysis that we perform makes sure that they are being enforced appropriately,” Daniel Gourley, General Counsel, Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office said.

Diversity in leadership at the sheriff’s office was noted in the NAACP’s letter as well.

It reads in part, “the BCSO command staff is entirely white and predominantly male.”

When we checked the BCSO website, now weeks after the letter was initially sent, we found five of the 27 people in leadership roles are women and three are racial minorities. The sheriff’s office stands by their hiring processes and denies any alleged violations.

They are however, willing to talk about the concerns.

“We welcome the opportunity to sit down and have an open discussion about our policies and procedures, how we can enforce those, how we do enforce those and address and concerns the NAACP had.”

Asaka wants the same meeting and hopes it can lead to change.

“Our goal is to ensure fairness, equality, and equity in policing and employment.”

It’s worth noting that the NAACP’s letter was sent to WTOC this week and we are now six days away from the South Carolina primary, where the Beaufort County sheriff is up for re-election.

WTOC asked the NAACP if the timing of their letter was intentional. They tell WTOC that it is completely coincidental, and the NAACP is a non-partisan organization.

You can read the full letter from the NAACP as well as the written response from sheriff’s office below:

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