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Charleston mayor wants a change in user fee to hire more police

Charleston Mayor Danny Jones announces a goal of moving up the increased user fee to hire more police. (WCHS/WVAH)

At a city council meeting Monday evening, Charleston Mayor Danny Jones suggested moving up the date of the already passed user fee increase from 2020 to 2018.

With the number of people arrested each week who Charleston police say are transient and living on the streets, Jones expressed that it's taking up a lot of police resources and there is a need, now more than ever, to hire more officers. The mayor wants the user fee to go up 50 cents to $3 by the beginning of next year.

"We're talking about 400 people . . . about 400 people roaming our streets," Jones said.

Jones said those people are causing problems throughout the city, taking up too many police resources.

"As a young woman living in downtown Charleston, Johanna Miesner said she is confronted by transient people every day.

"In my experience as a young person trying to live downtown, it's scary to go from the East End to downtown," she said.

Miesner supports Jones' idea. She said a stronger police presence is what Charleston needs to move forward.

The mayor said it is really only the police "that creates a presence that causes them to move on and stop asking people for money and creating a disruptive scene in our city."

Charleston Police Chief Brent Webster agreed that the amount of transient people in Charleston who commit crimes is taking much of the department's time away from other issues in the city.

"It is taking all of our resources," Webster said. "The homelessness issues weren't really as bad as they are now five years ago."

The chief aid bringing more officers in could boost police presence throughout the downtown area.

The police department also plans to begin using a sub station in Slack Plaza where K-9s would be present and officers would report more frequently.

Not everyone is on board with this plan. Head over to our Facebook page to join in on the conversation of this controversial increased user fee.

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