By Brian Sherman for The Island Eye News
The Isle of Palms does not have a gang problem and IOP Police Chief Kevin Cornett wants to keep it that way. The subject of gang violence was brought to the forefront during Memorial Day weekend, when four guns were confiscated by IOP police officers and large groups of people gathered on the island on two different nights. Cornett suggested at a meeting of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee June 2 that at least one of the incidents might have been connected to a party in Charleston at which 10 people were shot and a police officer was fired upon. Though Cornett isn’t sure the Memorial Day issues were gang-related, he is certain that an organized gang task force in the tri-county area would go a long way toward keeping the peace on the island and across the Lowcountry. “I’m not sure this is all gang-related, but there may be ties to gangs,” Cornett said. “Charleston County needs to get onboard with a countywide task force and if they do, we should put somebody full-time on that task force.”
Cornett, who dealt with gang related crime as a Columbia, South Carolina, police officer and as the chief in Springdale, said he has already discussed the possibility of a gang task force with local police chiefs and sheriffs.
“Once we figure out where we’re going, we’ll see if the city is willing to put someone on the task force full-time who does nothing but work those kinds of cases,” Cornett said. Cornett said the Memorial Day weekend trouble started the night of May 28 when around 200 people gathered at a house at 3906 Palm Blvd. He said the revelers were being bused to the party. When the police arrived at around 7:30 p.m., responding to a noise complaint, they contacted the property manager, Dunes Properties, and the party participants were asked to leave. The police and property manager discovered damage to the house, including broken floor molding, chipped tile, excessive trash, a broken mirror and furniture stacked haphazardly. In addition, the stoppers had been removed from multiple sinks. At around 9 p.m., while people were leaving the house, the driver of a Toyota Camry struck the home’s mailbox. According to the IOP Police report, Brandon Jordan Dickerson exhibited slurred speech and bloodshot eyes. In the center console of the automobile, police found a Glock 19 handgun with 15 rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber. They also discovered 3.6 grams of marijuana and a pill bottle containing oxycodone and diazepam.
Dickerson was transported to Center Point Medical Facility and eventually to the Charleston County Detention Center. He was charged with simple possession of marijuana and driving under the influence. Two nights later, on Memorial Day, Charleston County deputies broke up a large party at Wannamaker Park in North Charleston, and, according to IOP Police Department spokesman Sgt. Matt Storen, the officers overheard them say they were headed for the Isle of Palms. “We received information when this group of about 100 people showed up that some of them were carrying firearms,” Cornett related. Cornett said the IOP Police Department called in resources from Charleston County and Sullivan’s Island and that the Mount Pleasant Police Department volunteered to help as well. “It was a great use of mutual aid from our local law enforcement partners,” Cornett said.
According to Storen, a total of 22 officers responded: six each from IOP and Mount Pleasant, seven from Charleston County and three from Sullivan’s Island.
Storen said some of the people in the group were smoking, drinking and using drugs, and, when officers began citing them for these illegal activities, they left the beach and headed for the municipal parking lot, where some of them vandalized parked cars. Cornett said a fight broke out in the lot as well. Two people – a juvenile and David Leon Boyd, Jr., both of Moncks Corner – were arrested at the gas station on Palm Boulevard, where police officers found two guns, one of them that turned out to be a stolen weapon.
“I am very proud of our officers and their reaction to the information they got,” Cornett commented.