Photo by J. Tyler Franklin depicting protestors in Louisville, KY on this story on wfpl.org.
Every December, our state assembly gets an onslaught of pre-filed bills for the coming session. All the members submit their pet projects and campaign trail promises. So many could be inconsequential fluff but not all.
H3089 is one that is a hopeful strike for liberty and a correction of injustices that have been occurring.
This bill specifically does away with no-knock warrants in South Carolina. It gives guidelines law enforcement officers must abide by, suggests disciplinary actions for violations, and provides the funds for a training class to ensure adoption of the new procedure.
Under this new legislation, when a warrant is executed, the officer must physically knock on the door, announce themselves, and wait a minimum of 15 seconds before forcibly entering the home. The individual should be in a clearly identifiable law enforcement uniform. The individual must wear a body camera. The actual wording of the bill is as follows:
(2) wear a body-worn camera that records the law enforcement officer’s conduct for a minimum of five minutes before and after the execution of the warrant, and during any period that involves an arrest of a person or search of a person or property.
I am a firm believer in body cameras for law enforcement, to keep everyone honest not just one side or the other and this law is a good step in the right direction. However, the length of time the camera is engaged should be extended from five minutes after the warrant’s execution to the very end of the interaction, so everything is on video. This would result in video evidence to support or deny any accusations and claims that are made from both sides that would be admissible in all legal proceedings.
Executing officers must be certified to execute warrants. One would hope that all officers on the warrant execution are certified, not just the lead person but the law does not require a fully-certified presence.
Corrective actions have been identified for violations. The first violation, the officer’s certification to serve warrants is suspended for 6 months. A second violation results in a one-year suspension of certification, and the third violation is full removal of certification.
Violations should carry some monetary consequences beyond suspension such as leave without pay. Certification removal is an inconvenience, not a punishment. A third violation, which would indicate the officer’s blatant disregard for the law, should result in permanent removal from duty.
This bill also allocates funds for a training course on the constitutional, legal, and technical aspects of executing arrest and search warrants. The training course should be a mandatory part of the certification process.
This bill has strong support with 31 representatives in favor of it, representing 25% of the house. Just 32 more members are needed to vote YES for passage. All of the bill’s current sponsors are Democrats. Hopefully the Republicans do not play their usual games and prevent positive, quality legislation that protects the rights of citizens to fail. If all 45 Democrats vote YES on H3089, the bill still needs at least 18 free thinking, liberty minded, pro-Constitution Republicans.
Once H3089 leaves the house, it will face another test in the Senate where 30 of the 46 seats belong to Republicans.