Local law enforcement agencies are providing a united front in preparation for the high-profile trials of Dylann Roof and Michael Slager, set to take place across the street from one another and likely stretching through the rest of the year.
Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen said Friday that a “safety zone” will be established in the area surrounding the downtown courthouses beginning Oct. 31 with the start of the state trial of former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager. Bordered by Queen and Tradd streets between Meeting and King streets, Mullen does not expect to divert traffic in the area. Instead, the safety zone will involve a high police presence, with officers strategically posted so that action can be taken should an incident arise. Streets are to remain open and officers will patrol the area on bicycle and foot in coordination with federal and state agencies.
Mullen said that law enforcement agencies are not currently aware of any specific outside groups planning to enter Charleston during the trials, but said that any information from members of the community would be vital.
According to a representative from the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office, law enforcement personnel are working with the county Clerk of Court’s office to establish a designated protest area. The Mt. Pleasant Police Department will take a supporting role to assist fellow law enforcement agencies and handle any traffic incidents on the Ravenel Bridge. Mt. Pleasant Police Chief Carl Ritchie acknowledged the major undertaking presented by such high-profile and emotionally charged trials occurring simultaneously, but expressed confidence in the joint efforts of his officers and those from North Charleston, Charleston County, and the city of Charleston.
“I think if y’all have seen other incidents in this area, our four agencies work extremely well together and extremely close to protect the Lowcountry,” said Ritchie. “There are no jurisdiction lines when these types of events happen.”