After 52 years as a resident, 29 years as a police officer and five years as assistant chief—and nearly three years since the killing of unarmed citizen Walter Scott—Reggie Burgess will be sworn in Thursday as North Charleston, S.C.’s first black police chief.
The Post and Courier reports that Burgess will replace Eddie Driggers as the head of North Charleston’s Police Department. The 52-year-old native of the city has spent his entire career in his hometown, starting from an entry-level position with the department in 1989.
The city has seen a tumultuous two-and-a-half years since one of its officers, Michael Slager, shot and killed Scott, age 50, on April 4, 2015. Slager was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the second-degree murder of Scott after bullets from Slager’s gun somehow wound up in Scott’s back during a routine traffic stop for a nonworking taillight.
Dot Scott, a local activist, North Charleston resident and NAACP official, praised the promotion, noting that Burgess often attends meetings and community discussions revolving around the city’s treatment of blacks. “North Charleston should not have a lily-white detectives department when you have all these problems in the black community,” Scott said. “But I’m concerned that this is for optics ... I hope it’s not.”
Burgess has lived in some of the city’s roughest areas during his tenure as a police officer and has experienced some of the city’s crime problems up close. In 2010, Burgess’ nephew was shot in a murder that remains unsolved. Forty-seven percent of North Charleston’s residents are black.
In 2017, 94 percent of North Charleston’s homicide victims were black.
Read more at the Post and Courier.