Police Body Cameras & Mental Health
There are three weeks left in the 2015 legislative session, so the House worked on getting some Senate legislation through for a vote and tying up loose ends.
The biggest issue we dealt with this week was how to appropriately move forward on requiring law enforcement officers to wear body cameras. In recent newsletters, I have kept you apprised on the movements of this bill through the committee process, and after a debate on the House floor this week the S47 passed with bi-partisan support.
Once enacted, the House version would:
- Charge the South Carolina Law Enforcement Training Council (SCLETC) with studying the use, implementation procedures, and costs for body cameras. This first phase would last 180 days upon initial ratification.
- In the second 180 day phase, the SCLETC creates the guidelines for initial implementation.
- Throughout this process local law enforcement are given opportunities to voice any concerns they may have as they also study the impacts of implementation.
Once completed, the Training Council must report their findings to the General Assembly at which time my colleagues and I will be able to make the best informed decision possible about our state’s use of body cameras.
It’s important that we also consider the unintended associated costs–seen recently in communities around the country–of not having these cameras: potential expense of lawless behavior and injuries to person or property, out-of-control investigation/litigation cost, and damage to South Carolina’s reputation as a tourist destination. Weighed against those factors, the implementation of body cameras could represent a massive potential savings for taxpayers.
Mental health issues continue to make headlines, and this week we took additional steps to address the growing needs of those who suffer from mental illness. Currently our court systems experience backlog in part due to an increasing number of mental health cases. This provision, originating in the Senate, would allow elected solicitors to set up mental health courts to divert non-violent mental health cases. This solution allows our state to save taxpayer resources in addition to getting treatment for those who suffer from mental illness.
Looking forward, House and Senate leaders have also come to a point of agreement on Domestic Violence reform legislation. I expect the House to debate the matter on the floor next week.
While my House colleagues and I continue to work diligently the same cannot be said about the Senate. We’ve passed numerous milestone pieces of legislation while the Senate continues to stall. Among the items we have already passed, yet have stalled in the Senate are:
- H3184 – Ethics Reform Act
- H3006 – Pro Business Regulatory Reform
- H3014 – Shortening Legislative Session
- H3799 – Concealed Weapons Permit Expansion
- H3114 – Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act
- H3523 – Pro Business Ride Sharing Deregulation
- H3145 – Protecting Vulnerable Citizens
We have begun a campaign called “Finish the Job” in order to get this legislation passed. For more information on what you can do, please visit our website or our Facebook page.
As always, it is a privilege to serve you in the South Carolina House. If you ever need help with state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me.