A South Carolina lawmaker is hoping to bring some uniformity to the investigation of officer-involved shootings statewide, and on Tuesday, a full Senate committee discussed the bill before taking a vote on whether or not to send discussions to the State House floor.
There were 43 officer-involved shootings in South Carolina last year. Forty-two of those were investigated by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.
Right now SLED investigates these incidents at the request of the agency involved. But Senator Gerald Malloy from Darlington has filed a bill that would change request rules.
Malloy said, “Obviously to promote uniformity and to give the citizens a blueprint into officer-involved shootings.”
The original bill filed by Malloy applied required SLED to investigate deaths caused by law enforcement or in police custody. but negotiations in subcommittee added tow amendments.
“The basis of it was officers shooting victims,” Malloy added. “After testimony and after review there was a move from the committee to making it the other way around.”
The amendments would also require SLED to investigate the unnatural death of a law enforcement officer and when an officer is killed in the line of duty. Opponents of the bill say local law enforcement should still be able to call the shots when it comes to who investigates these incidents
Senator Thomas McElveen (D) of Sumter said, “I tend to believe in home rule for lack of term and local decision making is the best decision making. Our sheriffs are elected officials so my problem is if the sheriff from Calhoun County has an officer-involved shooting, I don’t know if I want to tie his hand if he wants to call in Richland County.”
The bill received enough votes this and will now head to the Senate floor.
While there were 43 officer-involved shootings last year, in 2017 there were 49. That year SLED investigated 48 of those shootings.