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Last updated March 5, 2020
No knock warrants
The South Carolina Supreme Court has temporarily ordered judges to stop issuing no-knock warrants. Though this action isn't permanent, it points to a potential shift in judicial view of these laws.
South Carolina has not yet enacted a law ending its participation in programs that facilitate the transfer of military weapons from the federal government to police departments.
Military style training
South Carolina officers are required to undergo mandatory racial bias, diversity, and de-escalation training at the academy. Recently, the head of the SC Law Enforcement Council talked about the need to extend that training beyond the academy and instead require mandatory programs.
South Carolina has not yet enacted a law requiring the recording and cataloging of SWAT team use.
Civil asset forfeiture
South Carolina has not yet enacted a law ending civil asset forfeiture.
In 2016, South Carolina enacted a law banning law enforcement agencies from requiring officers to meet quotas for the number of citations issued during a designated period of time. It also banned law enforcement agencies from evaluating an officer's performance based on the officer's points of contact. However, leaked memos from several departments in 2017 and 2018 suggest that informal quotas are still enforced.
Cost of misconduct
South Carolina has not yet enacted a law requiring police departments (not state general funds) to cover the cost of misconduct. As of July 2020, the Insurance Reserve Fund, a division of the South Carolina State Fiscal Accountability Authority, covers fees and settlements in police misconduct cases. From 2015 to 2019, payouts in claims related to law enforcement in South Carolina increased 50 percent.
South Carolina has not yet enacted a law decriminalizing minor offenses that do not threaten public safety such as spitting and loitering. Notably, in 2018 several USC students used a crosswalk at an intersection while the red hand was displayed--they were all given $232 citations for jaywalking.
Objective justification for stops
South Carolina has not yet enacted a law requiring officers to establish objective justification for making a stop (i.e. not simply for furtive movement, suspicious activity, or matching a generalized description). Common and accepted justifications for stops include a) information the police officer receives from others regarding the situation b) the suspect’s proximity to where a crime was recently committed c) the suspect’s reaction to the police officer’s presence, such as fleeing or attempting to hide d) the prior level of criminal activity in the area the suspect is located and e) the officer’s knowledge of the suspect’s prior criminal record.
Reporting stop details
South Carolina Department of Public Safety releases annual public contact reports. Each public contact report, which is issued anytime a vehicle is stopped without making an arrest, must include the age, gender, and race or ethnicity of the person stopped. However, the state does not have clear laws about pedestrian stop reporting requirements.
Reckless civil rights violation
South Carolina has not yet enacted a law lowering the prosecution requirement from ‘willful’ to ‘reckless’ deprivation of another’s rights.
South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) is technically the “independent” state police agency that investigates officer-involved shootings. However, so many SLED officers come from local departments that they often end up investigating their old colleagues. These connections eliminate any possibility of objectivity.
South Carolina has not yet enacted a law ending qualified immunity.
Mental health response
South Carolina has a statewide call number "where a family member, law enforcement, a patient or EMS can call for help with someone in psychiatric crisis,” she said. “Then the call will be triaged by a clinician on the phone ... and a determination will be made if an onsite response is needed. If it is, a team of two master's level clinicians will respond within 60 minutes along with law enforcement."
Education, Housing, Community Health Resources
It is important to note that policing does not address the roots of social disadvantage and barriers to (economic) opportunity that often lead to crime. Nor should police be burdened with that responsibility.
Without access to quality resources in healthcare, education, and housing, our cities, neighborhoods, and families will continue to suffer. We should instead reassess the budgets of the state government and reinvest in the services that matter most.
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