A Tale of Two Citizen Review Boards Upstate

Jul 15, 2020

A marcher in Rock Hill asked a poignant question with this sign. One the city is working to answer. Half an hour away, Chester officials are also trying to answer it. But the two cities are going about it differently.
Credit Scott Morgan / South Carolina Public Radio

The weekend after George Floyd’s death, a thousand-or-so people took to the streets of Rock Hill. At the heart of their march was a call to develop a citizen’s review board – a mechanism that allows residents to weigh in on claims of police misconduct. By the end of the march it was announced, to booming applause, that the city would start to develop one.

A few days later, a couple hundred people bowed their heads at a prayer vigil in Chester. The city’s mayor, Wanda Stringfellow, helped pull the vigil together with Chester County Sheriff Max Dorsey. During the vigil, Stringfellow said she would personally shepherd a citizen’s review board to the City Council.

By June 22, the ordinance for such a board passed its first of two hearings with the council.

It might be tempting to end the story there.  

But these two cities, barely 20 (and yet a million) miles apart, pulse at very different rates. How each community views its police agency is dictating how its citizen’s review board is developing. One is taking its time; the other is halfway there. One has a cordial relationship with its chief of police; the other a stressed one.

Listen to the full story below for input from city, community, and police leaders.

Listen to the four-minute on-air version here.

Scott Morgan is the Upstate Multimedia Reporter for South Carolina Public Radio. Follow Scott on Twitter @ByScottMorgan.