SC lawmakers push for law enforcement officers to wear body cameras

SC lawmakers push for officers to wear body cameras

AIKEN, SC (WFXG) - Just weeks after the shooting of Walter Scott in North Charleston, there have been growing concerns about officers in South Carolina wearing body cameras.

Lawmakers in the Palmetto State took a major step Wednesday in making that happen by passing a bill that would require all law enforcement agencies to wear body cameras out of a S.C. Senate subcommittee.

"No matter what legislation they go by, we're interested in body cameras," said Aiken County Sheriff Michael Hunt.

It's an ongoing subject that law enforcement agencies across the country have been considering.

"All this is new technology so we've been taking our time on it," Hunt said. "We have body cams on our uniform patrol division right now, trying a different model, and they seem to like that model."

Hunt said they've been talking about the possibility of using body cameras for three years now. From privacy rights, to data issues and cost, these are all issues the Senate will be addressing in a proposed bill.

"I think it would cut down on any complaints that are not so against the officer, and it's just a win-win for the officers and the citizens," Hunt said.

Equipping all officers with cameras could cost more than $21 million and although this may be an expensive change for the state, Hunt says they have already factored in the cost.

"Now we presented our budget last night to county council and in that budget is a line item for body cameras, and we'll see where council takes it," Hunt said. "So it would be nice if the state will kick in some money to help us to be quite honest with you."

If passed, the new law would put the South Carolina Law Enforcement Training Council in charge of creating policies for the program. They would have 180 days to come up with guidelines and an additional 90 days to come up with their rules for body cameras.

Lawmakers plan to have the bill passed sometime before May.

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