In the summer of 2020, leaders from several statewide organizations — the SC Sheriff’s Association, SC Police Chiefs’ Association, SC Law Enforcement Officers’ Association and SC Fraternal Order of Police developed strategies for the advancement of better law enforcement in the state. These proposals also aimed to build trust and confidence in policing, and improve community partnerships.
The South Carolina Senate Republican Caucus formalized the proposals into the SC LEADS Act for consideration during the 2021 – 2022 legislative session. Here are the areas in discussion, with bill numbers:
Required Standards (S124)
The proposal calls for the creation of required operational standards for all law enforcement agencies by the Law Enforcement Training Council. Standards may address such topics as the use-of-force continuum, vehicle pursuits, an officer’s duty to intervene into the actions of other officers, use of “no-knock” warrants, body and car cameras, among others.
State Law Enforcement Division investigations (S125)
The proposal would grant the State Law Enforcement Division exclusive jurisdiction and authority over investigations involving great bodily injury or unexpected death resulting from a law enforcement action. If an investigation involves a SLED officer, the South Carolina Attorney General would appoint a law enforcement agency from a list maintained by the Law Enforcement Training Council.
Officer certification requirements (S126)
This would change existing requirements for law enforcement officer certification so that officers would have to complete an approved field training program with their local agencies after they are certified by the SC Criminal Justice Academy. It would also require that noncertified officers perform enforcement duties only while they are accompanied by a certified officer.
New police chief training (S127)
This would require newly appointed chiefs of police to complete a model training program adopted by the Law Enforcement Training Council.
Duty to Intervene (S128)
The proposal would add “failure of duty to intervene” to the the definition of officer misconduct in state law. It would also require law enforcement agencies to cooperate fully with misconduct investigations.