COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) -George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and now Jacob Blake; those are the names of men and women recently killed by police. South Carolina lawmakers are hoping to prevent tragedies like their deaths by making big changes to our criminal justice system.
Tuesday afternoon, members of the House Law Enforcement Officer Training, Tactics, Standards and Accountability Subcommittee spent more than 4 hours discussing current training policies for law enforcement officers.
All officers required to have a psychological evaluation and take more than 40 hours of bias and prejudice training. But law enforcement agencies do not have to be accredited.
Accreditation makes sure agencies are complying with the nation’s best practices, but the program is voluntary. Some fear not all departments are practicing the same standards.
“What they get at the academy when the officers are trained and then they go back and those policies aren’t there. There needs to be some incentive to make sure agencies have a minimum level of policies, procedures they should be following,” said Chief Mark Keel with the SC Law Enforcement Division.
About a dozen speakers took the podium reiterating the same concerns; the need for more advanced training outside of the Criminal Justice Academy and a push to get all law enforcement departments accredited.
Another area speakers told lawmakers where the state can improve is funding for more training and body cameras.
More money would also mean the difference between recruiting and attracting more cadets.
Sheriff Leroy Ravenell explained, “When you’re recruiting, you’re going out recruiting some persons that don’t really want to be in law enforcement. They needed a job. But when you attract with incentives, and pay and things like that you’re getting people who want to be in law enforcement.”
There are about 300 law enforcement departments in the state. 261 agencies have received money over the years to pay for some body cameras. Agencies are also taking their own steps to try and increase salary.
Out of the 300 departments, about 70 of them are accredited. 118 departments have less than 10 people on staff.