Mayoral hopeful said arrests he's made cost him promotions

Charleston mayoral candidate and Police Pvt. Omar Brown would not elaborate Tuesday on his debate-night claim that he was passed over for promotion because he arrested police officers' children, but Brown further criticized the police department where he's worked for 12 years.

"I'm not the first person who has endured something like this, and I won't be the last, until I take over this administration," said Brown, 38, who is on leave from the department while running for mayor.

"We're talking about a culture of corruption," he said.

Brown would not provide details on the arrests that he said caused him to not be promoted and would not offer specifics about broader problems he said exist within the police department.

Police Chief Greg Mullen and Mayor Joe Riley said that if Brown has knowledge of improper practices, then he has an obligation to provide details.

"I would say that if he has any information about corrupt activity in the police department, he has a responsibility to bring that forward," Mullen said. "We have a professional standards office that takes complaints and thoroughly investigates them."

Riley said Brown applied for the police chief job after Reuben Greenberg stepped down in 2005 and that Brown didn't raise any concerns about corruption when Riley gave him an interview.

"I don't know where this is coming from," Riley said. "He needs to come up with it or not be making those sort of statements."

In Charleston, the mayor is responsible for the police department, and the police chief answers only to him. Riley is seeking re-election to a ninth term, and Brown is among three challengers. The others are William Dudley Gregorie and Marc Knapp.

At the debate Monday night, an audience member asked Brown why he thinks he can be a leader when, after a dozen years on the Charleston police force, he's still a private. Brown gave this reply:

"When a lieutenant's son sells drugs, I have arrested him. When a captain's son breaks into someone's house, I'll put you in jail, and I have done that," he said. "Therefore, down the line, you cannot get promoted because you're willing, as a leader, to make a difference in the lives of those who have been victimized, and that's the kind of leader I am."

On Tuesday, Brown said that explaining whose children he arrested and why he thinks that cost him a promotion would serve no purpose.

"I'm not interested in slinging mud," he said. "I could substantiate it as a fact, but I don't see how that would benefit me."

Just last week, after Brown was wounded in an off-duty shooting, Riley commended him as a fine and brave officer and visited him in the hospital.

Brown said that, given his record, the question people should be asking is why he hasn't been promoted.

"When you look at the performance record I have, I think it speaks to the caliber of officer I am," Brown said. "When you look at Bayside, it's been reformed, and I'm the one who did it."

Bayside Manor was a low-income housing complex known for violence and drug dealing, where Brown once was assigned to patrol. The complex, which has been renamed, still has trouble with violent crime, but not like it once did.

"I intend to press on with truthful statements," said Brown, who currently is assigned to Daniel Island.

The election for mayor is on Nov. 6.