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CPAD - Clears the streets of drug dealers, but for how long?

Where are the Eastside volunteers?
Warwick Jones

The Eastside patrols (CPAD) have been an unqualified success - to date. But what of the future? The streets have been cleared of drug dealers over the last two weeks, by citizen patrols and the police. The efforts of those on patrol have been strenuous and the days long. The participants, mainly from other parts of the City and County are growing tired, and weariness will very likely take a toll of numbers in coming days. The effort needs more volunteers. Unless residents from the Eastside step forward to join up, patrols may cease and drug dealers return to the streets.

Police assistance very important
The City and County police have stepped up their efforts to rein in drug dealing and lent strong support to the citizen patrols. Their contribution to the success of CPAD's efforts has been very important, and indeed without the support, success may not have been possible. The City moved eight police officers from other areas to assist in the cleanup effort and presumably expected these officers to return to their previous duties when success was achieved. But unless the CPAD patrols continue, at least on a random basis, the extra police will need to remain if dealing is to be restrained. And the effectiveness of the extra police will be diminished without the support of citizen patrols.

When they began the Eastside initiative, County Council members Darby and Pryor called for "100 African American men" to volunteer for the citizen patrols. The response was much less than hoped for, with only about 25 volunteers, and few from the Eastside. More have joined since the march of two weeks ago which advertised the beginning of the citizen patrols. But more volunteers are needed.

Physical strain on participants
The weariness of the patrolling citizens is understandable. CPAD has been active now for two weeks, sending out patrols every night, roughly between 8pm and 1 am. Clearly those on patrol have a desire to help clean up the drug dealing problem of the Eastside. They are willing to make personal sacrifices. But physically, the patrols are taking their toll, particularly considering that the majority of those on patrol are holding down full-time jobs. To fulfill employment obligations and participate in patrols is obviously physically demanding. For most of us, working a full week and patrolling every night would be physically impossible, at least beyond a short period.

NAACP and Mayor to make an appeal
It is a mystery to the organizers why the response for volunteers has been so poor from the Eastside community. There was support at the early meetings on the Eastside when the formation of CPAD was discussed. But only a few have shown up for the patrols. The organizers appealed to the local churches. But if the pastors appealed to their congregations, there has been no measurable impact. The NAACP has offered to help and will be making its own appeal to the churches, probably this weekend. Council member Mitchell, who represents the Eastside on City Council, has also asked Mayor Riley to contact the churches and schools and to seek support.

The Eastside needs to rise to the challenge
We hope that the community can rise to the challenge. Success is necessary. Firstly, because the citizens of the East side should be able to live in a community free of drug dealing and crime, and especially violent crime. Secondly, the remaining phases of the CPAD effort attempt to address one of the basic problems of the community, getting youth off the streets and gainfully employed. Thirdly, if the effort is a failure, and ascribable to the lack of volunteers from the Eastside, then the hurdle for achieving success in fighting crime on the Eastside will be raised. It will be easy for other citizens to shrug their shoulders about another effort to curb drug dealing. They can say the City and County joined forces to help the Eastside community. African Americans, Muslims and Christians from all over the City and County came to help. All together, they succeeded. The continuation of this success required the Eastside to rise and help itself. It didn't! Too bad! And the indifference of the Eastside will be accentuated by the enthusiasm of other communities to embrace CPAD, and seek its help cleaning up their drug dealing and crime problems.

Women and whites volunteer to serve
The organizers of CPAD have rigorously adhered to a policy of allowing only African American men on patrols. They recognize that the problem on the Eastside is mainly African American and should be cleaned up by African Americans. Although the number of male volunteers from the Eastside has been disappointing, the number of women who have volunteered has been surprising. No attempt has been made to keep a tally of the numbers but it is more than a handful. Some white males that have stepped forward, and also from the Eastside

CPAD is probably tempted to allow all the volunteers to join the patrols to make the burden on each individual easier. But despite these days of political correctness and equality amongst the sexes, the possible danger for those on patrol holds the organizers back from allowing women to participate. And there is another reason. Muslims make a significant proportion of those on patrol. For religious reasons, they do not want women to join them on their mission. To allow women on patrols could cost CPAD the support of the Muslim community.

Your Comments:

My guess is that many of the residents of the Eastide haven't participated is due to fear of retailiation from the drug dealers who probably know where they live and work.

It's really easy to say, "Hey Eastide, step up" from a comfortable neighboorhood far away, but quite another if you live in the middle for it, and the dealers could target you and your family or perhaps may even be a friend or family member.

As a pratical matter, I feel others--especially law enforcement--need to continue to help the Eastside for as long as it takes until enough dealers are taken off the street for the residents start to feel empowered. In the long run, the success of the program needs to involve the residents, but it will be a terrible sign if it fails in its infancy.

Also the patrols should be seen as only one of the many weapons to combat the drug problem not the only solution.

BTW, where are the dealers plying their trade if activity on the Eastside is declining?

Expect pushback from the dealers if the patrols continue to be succcessful for longer than they think. This is a will be a long fight and the winner will be the group one most committed.

Posted by: Vera at October 21, 2006 11:31 PM

I am in North Charleston. In the early 1990's we had a CPAD. It fell apart. Why? 'Cause the drug dealers waited. Then they struck back doing irritating things. Mail is missing, things taken off the front porch, hyperdermic needles all over your front or back porch. Police did nothing. Then if you kept the CPAD up, came break-ins to your car, house. If you had pets they were butchered. The police did nothing.

The police will continue to do nothing. After all the police must know ahead of the public on how the areas are, right? So then that means the police allowed it to happen.

Posted by: at February 13, 2007 12:37 PM