North Charleston police: 'There are some things we could have done differently'

By Stacy

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- North Charleston Police have admitted they made a mistake in researching the background of a man charged with attempted murder, attempted robbery and possession of a weapon during a violent crime last week.

According to police, 16-year-old Timothy McClendon shot a man in the Northwoods Mall parking lot.

"There are some things we could've done differently," Deputy Chief Scott Deckard said.

When police checked McClendon's background using a State Law Enforcement Division background check, it did not show his January arrest for cocaine trafficking, they said. Officials said the Al Cannon Detention Center, located in Charleston County, did not send his finger prints to SLED for the January charge.

"Juveniles that commit 'E' to 'F' felonies -- we are not required by SLED to forward that information up to them. That was a class 'E' felony, so therefore his information was not sent out to SLED," said Maj. Eric Watson with the Charleston County Sheriff's Office, the agency that operates the detention center.

Less than 24 hours after his arrest, McClendon faced a bond court magistrate.

"One of the most unusual things is you're talking about a 16-year-old juvenile charged with a violent crime who's already out on bond for a violent offense," Deckard said.

But under a new state law, violent repeat offenders should face tougher bond hearings in front of a general sessions judge rather than a bond court magistrate. Law enforcement also has up to 30 days to build its case against the suspect for a bond hearing.

"This is the very first instance we're aware of that happened. But since then, we have reached out to North Charleston. We are collaborating with them on developing different procedures to make sure we're all working on the same page," Watson said.

"What the law was intended to do was keep the violent offenders in jail," Deckard said.

The case reminded local law enforcement agencies that they must change the way they research suspects in order to keep up with the law.

"We're able to find those gaps where they exist and narrow them, unfortunately through situations like this," Deckard said. "We need to keep going like we were, keep working with the solicitor's office, the sheriff's office, other local agencies and SLED. We will dig into the background, criminal history records, local records, make the relationships with the agencies to see if they have anything. There are a lot of investigative resources out there," Deckard said.

"It's going to require us to do a whole lot more to make sure the information on the rap sheet for bond hearings is accurate," Watson said. "It's something we all have to get accustomed to doing."

Basic communication will ensure another suspect doesn't end up in the wrong court, they said.

McClendon will have a new bond hearing in the correct court, solicitor Scarlett Wilson said.