Firing of SC police officer accused of harassing Black residents comes with hefty price tag

Around the South

LANCASTER, S.C. (WJZY) – The Lancaster Police officer accused of harassing nearly two dozen Black residents was offered $60,000 to resign, the city of Lancaster confirmed.

Detective Sgt. Peter Black was terminated from the Lancaster Police Department in April after numerous reports of racial discrimination during traffic stops.

Neighbors shared their accounts and concerns with city officials during a council meeting in February. Some said he pulled them over multiple times for minor infractions with no ticket or citations, while others said he’s never pulled them over, but verbally harassed them.

The Lancaster City Council offered Beck a paid separation agreement with a $60,000 price tag, drawing sharp criticism from community members.

“I am outraged that each of you would go on record unanimously supporting a decision that says Black youth as citizens in this community that Black lives don’t matter in the Red Rose City,” said Reverend Anthony Pelham who spoke during a city council meeting. “Knowing that you used $60,000 of my taxpayer dollars to pay off an officer that has impacted individuals that look like me outraged me.”

Indeed.com lists the average base salary for a South Carolina police officer at $44,000. In a recent posting for a patrol officer with the Lancaster Police department, the salary range is up to $46,000 dollars. Beck received way more than that.

Lancaster Mayor Alston DeVenny said the council agreed that a separation agreement was the best way to move forward after receiving legal advice.

“Why do you ever settle any matter? You do it to address the concerns the people outside the operation, the people inside the operation,” Devenny said. “You do it to where it makes fiscal sense. You don’t litigate issues for litigation’s sake. You try to find ways that are a resolution to specific problems and that’s what we did.”

Pelham said that is not enough.

“There seems to be no repercussions for the officer, no repercussions for the one who selected the officer,” he said. “That’s problematic and it’s problematic because of the leadership that we have with the city council. Evil prevails when good men do nothing.”

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