Legislation 

Upcoming Legislation for 2015-2016 Session

Police Worn Body Cameras:

Law enforcement technology is moving quicker than policy and legislation.  There are certainly many pros to body cameras when a strong evidence based policy is in place prior to their implementation. The South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Association is in favor of exploring new technology including police body worn cameras. In fact many agencies across South Carolina currently use them or are in the process of acquiring them.  We believe it is important to balance that technology with the privacy of some victims and witnesses as well as officers. One such example would be a victim of sexual assault who wishes not to be video recorded. We further believe there are certain officers, detectives, investigators, and agents who should be exempt from such legislation as it would impede their ability to effectively carry out their sworn duties. We look forward to working with the General Assembly to pass legislation that will ultimately display the professionalism of law enforcement officers across this State. 

Medical Marijuana: 

The Medical Marijuana Study Committee continues to meet around the state and seem keen on the expansion of the Cannibidiol law that was passed last year. While there have been advances in medical science we are still years away from any viable usage of these experimental drugs in SC. SCLEOA will remain opposed to the expansion of this bill.  As law enforcement professionals our mission is to protect the citizens of South Carolina. 

According to the new report by the Rocky Mountain - High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area entitled “The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact,” the impact of legalized marijuana in Colorado has resulted in:

1. The majority of DUI drug arrests involve marijuana and 25 to 40 percent were marijuana alone.

2. In 2012, 10.47 percent of Colorado youth ages 12 to 17 were considered current marijuana users compared to 7.55 percent nationally. Colorado ranked fourth in the nation, and was 39 percent higher than the national average.

3. Drug-related student suspensions/expulsions increased 32 percent from school years 2008-09 through 2012-13, the vast majority were for marijuana violations.

4. In 2012, 26.81 percent of college age students were considered current marijuana users compared to 18.89 percent nationally, which ranks Colorado third in the nation and 42 percent above the national average.

5. In 2013, 48.4 percent of Denver adult arrestees tested positive for marijuana, which is a 16 percent increase from 2008.

6. From 2011 through 2013 there was a 57 percent increase in marijuana-related emergency room visits.

7. Hospitalizations related to marijuana has increased 82 percent since 2008.

Expungements: 

The Expungement Study Committee submitted a final report in October and it is clear they have a specific goal of broadly expanding current expungement law. Over 20 people testified with most, outside of the law enforcement community, favoring expansion. SCLEOA, along with other law enforcement and victims advocates, will continue to oppose any broad expansion of the current expungement laws. The report outlines possible expansion to include all misdemeanors, non-violent felonies and drug offenses. We believe that this expansion would be harmful not only to law enforcement in South Carolina but also to the business community.

CDV Reform: 

The House CDV Reform Committee continues to meet to discuss proactive and reactive ways to lower the rate of Domestic Violence in South Carolina.  We know one of the most dangerous calls an officer gets is a domestic call. This committee is taking the time to hear from experts around South Carolina as well as other states. SCLEOA has spoken to law enforcement officials from around the State and agree it is past time to take a stand. Below are some of the proposals to further enhance our current CDV laws:

A)     Provide an Enhancement for any CDV committed in the presence of a child;

B)     Provide an Enhancement for any CDV involving strangulation;

C)     Model CDV laws after Burglary laws so there is a tiered system;

D)     Revamp the current bond hearing system for CDV offenders to include a mandatory 24 hour cooling off period, mandate a surety bond (no PR bonds), and increase the usage of electronic monitoring when there is elevated violence or substantiated threats of elevated violence;

E)      Establish widespread CDV Courts where there is a prosecutor and judge assigned to handle CDV cases;

F)      Establish temporary protective orders that can be signed by an officer and/or on duty magistrates until an Order of Protection can be heard in Family Court;

G)     Advanced meaningful CDV training for law enforcement officers. 

 

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The 2nd Regular Session of the 120th South Carolina General Assembly ended on June 5, 2014.  As always, the SCLEOA worked diligently during this session to maintain our reputation as, "The Voice of Law Enforcement in South Carolina Since 1941."

Each year, the SCLEOA monitors legislation to ensure that the concerns of the law enforcement profession are being addressed. We monitor a number of issues including, but not limited to, traffic enforcement, criminal law, the Police Officers Retirement System, and gun laws.

2nd Regular Session:

S 19 - Bond reform for repeat violent offenders: This bill changes the bond hearing venue from magistrate’s court to the circuit court for violent offenders who are currently out on bond and commit an additional violent offense. It establishes uniform criteria for judges and codifies the information a judge must have on an offender prior to setting bond. 

http://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess120_2013-2014/prever/19_20140319.htm

 

S 137 - Ignition interlock devices for 1st offense DUI convictions for offenders who blow a .15 or higher: This bill requires offenders who are convicted of 1st offense DUI and blow a .15 or higher to enroll in the Ignition Interlock Device Program through SC DPPPS. SCLEOA encourages departments to have a representative from the PPP Ignition Interlock Device Program come to your department and teach your officers about IID’s. You can contact Ruth Ann Cartwright at 803-734-9220 or email her at rcartwright@ppp.sc.gov

http://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess120_2013-2014/prever/137_20140402.htm

 

S 459 - Unlawful use of a wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle:  This bill makes it unlawful for a person to use a wireless electronic communication device to compose, send, or READ a text based communication while operating a motor vehicle.This is any electronic device including telephones, personal digital assistants, text messaging devices, laptops, etc. It does not include any navigational devices or GPS. The operator can however use a hands free device or text while they are legally parked or stopped. SCLEOA did advocate for an exception for law enforcement as long as it is in the performance of the officers official duties. The fine if convicted is $25 and there are no violation points assessed.  

http://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess120_2013-2014/prever/459_20140604.htm

 

H 4560 - Expungements: This bill allows law enforcement agencies to retain evidence, incident and supplemental reports, and investigative files for the purpose of future and ongoing investigations indefinitely after a charge has been expunged however it must be retained under seal. The information is not a public document and is exempt from disclosure except by court order. If this information is FOIA’d then the law enforcement agency shall redact the name and other identifiers of the person whose record was expunged. For discovery purposes in codefendant cases or closely related cases a prosecution agency can provide unredacted copies to the defendant’s attorney. 

http://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess120_2013-2014/prever/4560_20140605.htm

 

1st Regular Session:

We are proud to announce that one of our primary items in the 1st Session was passed by the House and Senate and was signed in to law by the Governor on June 14, 2013. That priority item was the issue of Disability Retirement for PORS Members and was addressed in S. 484.

In 2012, changes were made to the South Carolina Police Officers Retirement System (PORS) that would have fundamentally changed the way Police Officers were able to receive disability retirement if they had been disabled while on the job. Thankfully, legislators listened to our concerns and agreed something needed to be done. S. 484 removes the requirement for PORS members to also be approved by Social Security Disability in order to continue receiving State Disability Retirement. In addition, S. 484 reinstates the Medical Review Board that previously approved an application for PORS Disability. All in all, this piece of legislation allows disabled PORS members to receive their disability without any unnecessary burden and simultaneously protects the viability and health of the PORS system. 

We are also proud of several other bills that passed in the 1st regular legislative session. Notably, S. 8 (which removes the strict liability dog bite statue from patrol canines and requires patrol canines and their handlers to become nationally certified) and H. 3451 (which allows CDV 1st and 2nd, shoplifting, and other Magistrate level offenses to be added to the Uniform Traffic Ticket) have also been signed in to law by the Governor. Earlier in the session, we also saw H. 3560 become law, which prevents individuals who have been adjudicated as mentally ill from purchasing a hand gun and requires SC courts to report those individuals to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NCIS).

Overall, this was a very productive 2 year legislative session. You can rest assured that the collective voice of the law enforcement community was heard at the South Carolina Statehouse! Obviously, there is significant work still to be done. We look forward to working with the General Assembly next year as we continue to promote and enhance the law enforcement profession in South Carolina.

As always, if there is an issue you would like for us to address, please do not hesitate to contact us.

If you have an issue you would like for the SCLEOA to address, please contact us by email at 

ryan@scleoa.org 

 

 

 
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