State Judiciary Committee Advances Bill

Requires SLED investigation

South Carolina Radio Network
January 23, 2019 - 10:56 am

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JANUARY 23, 2019 BY RENEE SEXTON (South Carolina Radio Network)

A bill that would require the State Law Enforcement Division to investigate all shootings that seriously injure or kill police officers is on its way to the Senate.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 13-9 Tuesday to advance the bill after some discussion.

“Right now there is no uniformity,” said the bill’s sponsor, Senator Gerald Molloy, D, Hartsville. “This issue is bigger than just our state law enforcement division. It’s for our citizens and we’re giving them a blueprint and we’re giving them some uniformity.”

Some committee members raised concerns about the potential for SLED leadership to influence an investigation. Others questioned if sheriff’s departments had the resources to conduct investigations.

“I’m not advocating for SLED,” Molloy said. “I don’t really care about that issue. I’m not advocating for the sheriff’s department. I don’t really care about that issue, either. I’m advocating for the citizens.”

More than one senator expressed concern about taking investigative authority away from local agencies and putting it into the hands of an agency led by someone appointed by the governor.

“I tend to believe in home rule, for a lack of a better term, and that local decision-making is the best decision-making,” said Senator Thomas McElveen, D, Sumter. “Our sheriff’s are obviously elected countywide. They’re elected officials.”

“I’d just as soon defer these decisions to local people to make decisions about what happens in their community,” said Senator Dick Harpootlian, D, Columbia. Harpootlian served as a solicitor.

“We start directing what the sheriffs can do in terms of some allegation of impropriety then are we going to do county councils? Are we going to do boards and commissions?” he asked.

The committee also voted to advance several other bills Tuesday: one that prohibits marriage for anyone under 16, another that raises the liability limit to two million dollars, and one that increases the fines for anyone convicted of soliciting prostitution.

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