The South Carolina General Assembly passed Act 218, known at the Law Enforcement Betterment Bill, last year to address a national outcry for change to improve law enforcement operations. Law enforcement leaders concurred that opportunities existed to improve policing in South Carolina.
Before this law, noncertified police officers could perform law enforcement activities on their own for up to one year without certification through the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. But as of July 1, 2022, the law changed to require noncertified officers to be accompanied by a Class I Certified police officer while conducting law enforcement activities.
Act 218 also expands the definition of misconduct, found at SC Code Section 23-23-150, to include the failure for a police officer to intervene or report the observation of another officer abusing members of the public. In addition, an agency is required to report to the SCCJA the occurrence of any act that is reasonably believed to be misconduct within fifteen days of the action resulting in an internal investigation conducted by the agency.
The law also requires the state's Law Enforcement Training Council, an 11-member panel which includes police chiefs and sheriffs, the chief of the SC Law Enforcement Division and the state's attorney general, to develop minimum standards for all agencies. A new compliance division within the training council will review departments every three years to ensure departments are complying with the minimum standards. Departments that are state or nationally accredited are exempt from the compliance review by the training council. Penalties for police departments not in compliance can range from fines of up to $1,000 per violation per day to temporary suspension of the certification of every officer in the agency.
Visit the Municipal Association's Understanding Act 218 webpage to learn more about the specific minimum standards.
On behalf of the South Carolina Municipal Insurance Trust and the South Carolina Municipal Insurance and Risk Financing Fund, the Municipal Association's Risk Management Services worked with the Legal Liability and Risk Management Institute and the SCCJA to update and ensure applicable model policies comply with the required standards. Login and navigate to the law enforcement model policies page to access policies signified with Act 218 next to each policy.
For more information or assistance with the model policies, contact Bethany Pendley, loss control manager, at 803.933.1210 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Chris Radcliff, public safety loss control consultant, at 803.354.4764 or email@example.com.