ANDERSON, SC (WSPA)– Anderson’s Police Chief broke down a South Carolina law he uses to hold his officers to a higher standard. Chief Jim Stewart said misconduct is not tolerated under his watch, and it’s against the state’s law.
“No where in our policy would we ever do that. You never put your knee on someone’s neck. It’s not even in the book,” said Chief Stewart, with the Anderson Police Department.
The death of George Floyd has left him disturbed.
“We have scratched our heads at that one,” Chief Stewart said.
As people in the Upstate have shown their unrest in a number of protest, the Chief is bringing attention to a misconduct law established in 2018.
“We have it set up through the academy to report officer misconduct. That can be from numerous violations, misconduct in office, drug use failure to handle weapons properly, excessive alcohol, numerous things,” Chief Stewart said.
The law also includes excessive force while dealing with the public or inmates. Excessive force is a concern for one community activist.
“I get a lot of complaints about some of the guys on the force with harassment and they feel they’ve been racially toned because they’re black,” Rev. Emmanuel Donaldson, Community Activist.
“Sometimes we have these complaints come in and we’re able to dismiss them right away because we review the tape. Other times, we have seen issues that we need to do some retraining on,” Chief Stewart said.
Chief Stewart said they report any misconduct to the Criminal Justice Academy. He said it’s to ensure he’s not held civilly liable if another agency tries to hire the officer.
“If we have an officer here accused of excessive force, where we’ve found excessive force, then certainly yes, that’s a reason for dismissal,” Chief Stewart said.
“The burden is put on us as Chiefs or Sheriffs, to report that to the academy within 30 of that officer being terminated. Failure to do so, saying I let that officer go, and the officer was hired by another agency and didn’t report that…that agency that hire them, if that same incident happens again, I’m held civilly liable,” Chief Stewart said.
“Anybody who’s wearing a badge and a uniform and carrying a gun, you make yourself feel big. But it’s a better person to utilize better value and a better situation verses brutality. And that’s something we don’t need. We don’t need to be pushed or harassed around here just because, you are in uniform,” Rev. Donaldson said.
The Chief said they’re very transparent about complaints of use of force. It’s on their website. The Chief also said they will continue to take action and standby the community.
“It’s a time for us to mourn. We’re all in this together and to speak our minds,” Chief Stewart said. “And where George couldn’t speak, we’re going to speak for him,” he added.
Chief Stewart also said they have body cameras to ensure officers do what’s right. They have an internal affairs officer who reviews and investigates misconduct cases.
Hundreds gather for peaceful protest in downtown Anderson
A peaceful protest was held late Wednesday in Downtown Anderson. Organizers tell us over 400 people took part which began as a rally. People gathered, held signs, and also called for change after the death of Floyd.
Anderson County Sheriff Chad McBride, The Mayor of Anderson, Terence Roberts, and Rev. Emmanuel Donaldson, were among those who made remarks during the event.
Some demonstrators said they’re grateful things were calm, but now they want to see change.
“I think it was the best thing that we could do. We had a peaceful protest. Um, everyone came out all types like all different colors of people came out to support each other. It was a great outcome,” said Kamariah Hammonds, a protester.
The crowd marched for several blocks. Those who took part discussed the importance of voting, and the next steps the community should take collectively.