Requiring Law Enforcement Agencies have Written Policies for Investigating Officer Involved Deaths

S.649 would require all South Carolina law enforcement agencies to maintain a written policy for investigating officer involved deaths, defined as “the death of an individual that results directly from an action or an omission of a law enforcement officer while the law enforcement officer is on duty or while the law enforcement officer is off duty but performing activities that are within the scope of his or her law enforcement duties.”

Policies would have to require the investigation of any such incident be conducted by a minimum of two investigators neither of whom are employed by the same law enforcement agency which employs the officer whose actions are being investigated. The investigators would submit complete reports to the appropriate solicitor, and if the solicitor determines not to prosecute the officer involved in the death the contents of the report shall be made public.

These kinds of investigations would not be required for officer involved deaths that result from a traffic collision.

As in the case of other bills requiring independent investigation of police actions, S.649 will reduce the chance of malfeasance in investigations, and will help to restore public confidence in the notion that the justice system can be fair and impartial.

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