Newcomer feared police stops, so she moved away

Marieli Castro, 43, moved to the Dorchester Waylyn area of North Charleston in 2006, and said she soon came to fear the city’s police officers as much as the crime in her neighborhood. “I would like the police go out and be friends with people,” said Castro, who has since moved to Hanahan.

Marieli Castro fell in the love with the Lowcountry’s history when she visited in 2005.

She moved from Texas to North Charleston in 2006, the city’s deadliest year on record, and found a reasonably priced rental in Dorchester Waylyn, one of its most crime-ridden communities.

She saw violence — a man was robbed across the street. But the police were the ones Castro came to fear.

Castro was finding her groove during her first months here. With a natural desire to help people, she got a job as a state social worker, then as an employment specialist for Goodwill. Money was hard enough to come by when officers started stopping her.

Her first ticket was for failing to promptly convert her out-of-state driver’s license, then for having a broken brake light.

An officer once stopped her during a daily jog, which she credited for her 30-pound weight loss. She was accused of being a prostitute.

“When you’re scared to walk outside and exercise,” Castro said, “that’s ridiculous.”

She intended to pay the $900 in fines, but the bill was too much. The next time she was stopped, she said she was arrested for the overdue tab.

At 43, it was the native Puerto Rican’s first arrest, an ordeal she cringed to recall.

After two years, Castro relocated to Midland Park, but nothing changed. Another high-crime area, another barrage of stops.

Fed up, she moved from North Charleston altogether and now lives in Hanahan, where an officer mentors her youngest child.

“I would like to see the police go out and be friends with the people,” Castro said. “Writing tickets for everyone won’t make them any friends.”

Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414.