SC Republican Senators share police reform proposals, plan to work on legislation through this year

Updated: Jun. 22, 2020 at 2:04 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Members of the South Carolina Senate Republican Caucus unveiled their police reform plans Monday afternoon at the State House.

They're calling these proposals the South Carolina Law Enforcement Accountability, Duty and Standards Act (SC LEADS Act).

Senator Shane Massey (R-Edgefield) said, "One of the important things that we recognize that we have to deal with is work towards saving lives. We have to work towards rebuilding trust between law enforcement and the citizens they are sworn to protect and serve."

According to Senators, the SC LEADS Act aims to accomplish a variety of things. According to Sen. Greg Hembree (R-Horry), there are six main topics they hope to address. Those are:

  • Required baseline standards and accreditation
  • Duty to intervene
  • Fully fund body-worn camera programs and South Carolina Highway Patrol car camera program
  • Mandatory attendance at misconduct hearings
  • Non-certified officers and training
  • Centralized investigation and charging authority for officer-involved shootings

Sen. Hembree said they would like to see the Law Enforcement Training Council create uniform police tactics and policies for all law enforcement agencies. "They risk losing grant funding, they risk civil fines, and risk being disbanded as a police department if they fail to adopt those baseline standards," he said.

Some of those changes include possibly

Senators said they came up with these proposals after meeting with their constituents and law enforcement over the last few weeks in different meetings. Sen. Sean Bennett (R-Dorchester) said they heard some of the same things, "The consistency was we need to be more transparent, we need to repair the trust with our law enforcement and we need to get more bad apples out of the system."

Hembree said fully funding the body camera mandate could cost the state about $10 million with recurring costs every year.

According to Hembree, they would like to pass a bill that would make it to where non-certified officers in South Carolina shall not perform duties unless accompanied by a certified officer.

Sen. Massey said they hope to introduce some legislation this week and begin work in committee meetings through the end of the year. He said public input will be very important in this process. He also said they will be relying on input from minority communities and will be doing more to reach out to those communities and hear from them at these meetings.

Members of the caucus said they would need bipartisan support to get these measures passed in the Senate. They pointed out that some of the proposals in the LEADS Act are similar to legislation introduced by Senate Democrats.

Sen. Massey said the goal is to have a bill or a couple bills ready once the next session starts in January 2021.

You can watch the full press conference below:

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