HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (CSU) — South Carolina law enforcement officials anticipate an uptick in crime and, perhaps, officer-involved shootings as the weather warms.
According to Jackie Swindler of the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy, there has been an upsurge in violence throughout the nation, which raises the likelihood of an officer-involved shooting.
“You have to assess whether or not a person is a threat to you,” Swindler said. “You must make a hasty choice.”
South Carolina saw 40 officer-involved shootings in 2021, according to the State Law Enforcement Division. There have been eight so far this year.
“During the summer months, you normally see more activity, more aggressive action,” Swindler added.
Fifteenth Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said he works with SLED to examine if an officer’s use of force was appropriate when dealing with officer-involved shootings.
“The entire point is to have an impartial committee in there making a decision on the inquiry,” Richardson said. “At that moment, all I care about is whether or not the police officer should be charged.”
A recent instance in the Grand Strand region entailed a chase that culminated with Cassandra Dollard, a former Hemingway officer, shooting and killing Robert Langley. She’s been charged with manslaughter on her own will.
The use of lethal force is only permissible when an officer legitimately feels his or others’ lives are in danger, according to officials.
“There are situations where the cop may have placed himself in a difficult scenario, and that’s what makes our issue a lot more complicated,” Richardson said.
De-escalation has been a bigger part of police training in recent years, in an attempt to make potentially violent situations safer for everyone involved.
Swindler said, “We practise a lot of tactics on how to separate individuals, how to communicate to people, how your look and facial expressions, and your phrases may help calm people down.” “I’ve seen a significant improvement as a result of police receiving that sort of training.”
When investigating officer-involved shootings, body cams have also been useful. They allow the public to see the officer’s point of view and may enable a solicitor or jury in determining whether an officer’s use of force was justified, according to Swindler.
It also prevents people from behaving out if they are aware that they are being recorded,” he said.
“They could say, ‘Hey, I think this cop has a camera, so I’m not going to act out or say anything unpleasant, swearing, or confrontational because I don’t want to seem like that,'” Swindler said. “They’re aware that there will be documentation and that everything they do will be recorded.”
Officers are also trained on how to deal with instances involving mental illness, according to Swindler. He claims that many of the persons police encounter are suffering from some kind of mental illness, and that knowing what to say may assist de-escalate the situation.
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