Skip to main content

Voices. Knowledge. Solutions.

Law Enforcement Policies: Hiring and Terminating Practices

Act 218 took effect in 2023, requiring all law enforcement agencies to adopt and implement a set of minimum standards. The law allows departments to establish additional standards that are more restrictive.

The Municipal Association’s Risk Management Services drafted model policies for each of the standards. Departments that are not SC Municipal Insurance Trust or SC Municipal Insurance and Risk Financing Fund members should reach out to the SC Criminal Justice Academy for policy questions.

The third model policy on the list is the “Hiring and Terminating Practices.” The policy states that the department will hire only qualified candidates, as it “seeks the highest level of professionalism and integrity by its members.” 

The document names qualifications and requirements for officer hires. Among others, it includes a requirement of a high school diploma or its equivalent, and documentation that the candidate is at least 21 years old, as required by state law. 

For physical requirements, the policy requires a successful fitness test, with the standards involved set by the department and administered by a certified fitness instructor. Part of the background check process that would follow the fitness test includes a medical history and a medical exam. 

For the candidate’s legal background, the policy requires as part of the application an affidavit indicating whether the candidate has ever been the subject of a domestic restraining or protective order, and whether they have ever been convicted of a domestic-violence-related offense. 

For the background check process, the standards require that the candidate have never been convicted of a felony or convicted of a criminal offense that involves moral turpitude. The background check would also determine whether the candidate is “of good character” and has a good credit history. The candidate’s fingerprints would be checked against the records of the FBI and the SC Law Enforcement Division. The check would also include contacting law enforcement agencies in places the candidate has lived, a database search to determine whether the officer has ever been decertified by any state standards and training council, and a call to the SC Criminal Justice Academy. The process would include an interview of past employers when possible. 

The final steps include a polygraph test conducted by a licensed examiner and an objective interview using standardized questions. The policy states that any evidence obtained at any point showing that “the candidate has a propensity to engage in conduct that could harm a member of the public” would be considered disqualifying. 

The policy notes numerous circumstances when an agency head can immediately relieve an officer from duty:

  • There is cause to believe the officer to be physically, psychologically or emotionally unable to perform duties.
  • There is cause to believe the officer is impaired from substance use.
  • The officer is arrested or the subject of a criminal investigation, or is the subject of an administrative investigation in some circumstances.
  • The officer’s official actions result in death or serious injury to another person.

Law Enforcement Training Council regulations require all dismissals of sworn officers to be reported to the SC Criminal Justice Academy. The model policy requires all employment separations to be reported within 15 days, no matter the reason. 

The SC Municipal Insurance Trust and SC Municipal Insurance and Risk Management Fund offer a law enforcement hiring process guide.