State lawmaker proposing police reform agenda

Updated: Jun. 16, 2020 at 9:16 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - State lawmakers are considering a series of police reform proposals after weeks of civil unrest throughout the country.

Rep. JA Moore, who represents parts of Berkeley and Dorchester counties, has announced the “Moore Justice Agenda.”

He says the proposals aim to address injustices in South Carolina.

He has been working on this since 2015 after the death of Walter Scott. Scott was shot and killed by a former North Charleston police officer during a traffic stop.

“I’m super supportive of law enforcement, but what I’m not in support of is racist profiling," Moore said. “What I’m not in support of is all of these discriminatory practices that too often have played too many police departments across the state and across the country.”

Moore says we need to do a better job when it comes to training police officers and deputies. He says he has several plans he's hoping will be put into action.

One of the proposals would require mandatory implicit bias training.

“We need to decentralize the training we do here in South Carolina and do a regional approach, and when you make it a regional approach that gives you an opportunity to do these implicit bias training,” Moore said.

There is also a proposal to form citizen review boards that are independent of the police department or agency they are investigating. Moore said the board would make recommendations and build public trust.

We’ve reached out to several law enforcement agencies about some of the proposals.

North Charleston Police Chief Reggie Burgess said his department supports implicit bias training.

He released the following statement:

“The North Charleston Police Department supports and provides implicit bias training for its officers. Annually, each NCPD officer receives a block of Biased Based Profiling training during in-service training."

“In addition to the in-service training, numerous officers have received Seven Stones Unconscious Bias Training, which was requested by the department through the Police Foundation, as part of our involvement in the Department of Justice Collaborative Reform Initiative - Technical Assistance Program (CRI-TA).”

“Beginning in 2019, officers from the North Charleston Police Department began attending Racial Equity Institute (REI) training hosted by YWCA Greater Charleston and facilitated by Metanoia and the Coastal Community Foundation.”

“The North Charleston Police Department recognizes implicit bias training as being integral to building relationships and improving communication with those we serve.”

The Charleston County Sheriff's Office also said they conduct mandatory training.

A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office said they will not be forming a citizen review board.

The sheriff’s office released the following statement:

" We conduct mandatory ‘biased based policing’ sessions for our deputies. In addition to the training, in the past we have brought in (and continue) community based speakers, such as Quintin Williams to discuss community policing and diversity."

“We are not forming a citizen review board. During critical incidents, by policy we request an outside agency to investigate our actions. This ensures a thorough investigation, which sometimes results in formal charges of the deputy by those investigators. In addition, we hold community meetings on a regular basis, which we post publicly for any citizen to attend and discuss concerns. Given the amount of jurisdiction we cover, we have 2 to 3 meetings a week in different parts of the county.”

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