Nationally renowned police chief suggests arms can keep businesses safe
About two dozen frustrated James Island business owners met with Charleston (SC) Police Chief Reuben Greenberg, several Charleston police officers and Charleston County sheriff's deputies, to discuss protection against a rash of robberies and burglaries along a stretch of Folly Road.
Greenberg told them that robberies, burglaries and rapes are a fact of life for communities across the country. "There is never going to be zero crime. We can only work to reduce those that happen," he said.
He said one particular downtown business in a high-crime area hasn't been held up in 20 years because the owner and employees, including the guy mopping the floor, are armed.
Mary Jane Keathley, meeting organizer and co-owner of a restaurant, asked Greenberg if he was joking. "Are you telling us we should arm ourselves?" she said.
"That's a decision you have to make for yourself," Greenberg said.
"I find that completely unacceptable," she said.
"I can't believe that's the only way," another man said.
"That's the kind of world you live in," Greenberg replied.
At least eight robberies and 15 break-ins have been reported along the heavily traveled 800 and 900 blocks of Folly Road in the past 12 months. Some business owners have called for more protection.
Educated in the 1960's at the radical UC-Berkely, with a resume including labels like civil rights activist and sociology professor, police chief Reuben Greenberg has had a very high profile career. He's Jewish, as one might guess from his name. What you might not have guessed is that he's also black, the first black police chief Charleston ever had.
While known for advocating strong punishments (vs. rehabilitation) for offenders, and while a vocal proponent of racial profiling, Greenberg has traditionally taken a negative stance on citizens defending themselves. In his book, "Let's Take Back Our Streets" - published in November, 1989 and now out of print - the sentiment was that a citizen using a gun for self-defense is a bad thing.
"It's been a long time since I read that book," OFCC supporter and police sergeant Bob Mueller states, "but as I recall, his
emphasis was on calling the police and sitting back to wait for them. He went to great lengths to brag about the proactive things his department was doing, like the 'Flying Squad'--a bunch of fast, young cops on foot beats in downtown who made it a practice to chase down every bad guy, and win the chase. Or the practice they had of sending a carpentry crew out to repair
the doors of the houses when they did a raid. He made a big deal about how safe his department would keep you."
Commentary by Chad D. Baus:
We're glad to see that Greenberg has finally begun applying his common-sense approach to crime prevention to the arena of self-defense. Try as they might, and great as they are, law enforcement is still most often relegated to cleaning up AFTER the crime has occurred, rather than actually preventing it from happening. As Greenberg put it, this is the kind of world [we] live in."