In North Charleston, S.C., police-community relations a work in progress

All summer, police in North Charleston, S.C., have ticketed children for doing something good, like picking up litter. That "ticket" is actually a voucher for something fun like snacks or zoo tickets.

"The community is part of us and we need them as much as they need us," said Deputy Chief Scott Deckard, who oversees the police's community outreach program.

When asked if this was a period of introspection for the department, Deckard said "I think it has to be."

Last April, cell phone video recorded a white North Charleston cop shooting a fleeing black resident from behind. Walter Scott was unarmed. Officer Michael Slager was charged with murder.

"See with us, that is the first thing they do and it is getting ridiculous, you know," said resident Anthony Smith, who added that racial profiling by police has cost his barbershop customers.

"Cause a guy might go out with a suit and tie to get a haircut and they pull them over."

Slager originally stopped Scott because his third brake light was out.

"I guess you have to be driving while being black," Smith said.

When asked how long this has been going on, Smith laughed. "Come on man, are you serious?"

Eight North Charleston cops work full-time on community relations. Some police-community programs go back more than 20 years.

Deckard wouldn't talk about the Scott case. But admitted "it is awkward to go into some of these places and start a general conversation without having something extra there to maintain the conversation."

Local activist A.J. Davis has a suggestion: try talking about Walter Scott.

"But what you didn't have is any discussion between the police and various community groups, especially those targeted, on how they can improve the image of the police department within the community."

They talk about it, but so far, just not with each other.

  • Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001 and is based in the Atlanta bureau.