Palmetto Sunrise: Body cams seen as answer for police incidents

A body camera on a Charleston police officer. Melissa Boughton/Staff

A spiraling series of events from Ferguson through North Charleston and now to Baltimore has pushed policymakers to heed public demand for more scrutiny of law enforcement.

The preliminary answer: body cameras. The devices are seen by activists and even many law enforcement officials as a way to restore public trust and add a layer of scrutiny.

As the Post and Courier’s Melissa Boughton reported, one day after a S.C. Senate committee voted to require all patrol officers in the state to wear body cameras, the U.S. Senate announced plans to hold hearings on the police use of body cameras.

The news comes in the wake of the April 4 local police shooting of Walter Scott and as protests continue in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who suffered a fatal spinal-cord injury Sunday after being handcuffed and put in the back of a police van.

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott called for the hearings Wednesday, saying body camera use will provide “increased protection for both law enforcement officers and those they serve.” Sen. Lindsey Graham leads the Judiciary Committee’s crime subcommittee and said the hearing is a “great idea.”

The two men represent South Carolina, where Scott was fatally shot in the back by police officer Michael Slager, who has since been fired and charged with murder. He is being held in solitary confinement at the Charleston County jail.

Scott’s death, caught on camera by a bystander, contradicted a police narrative that described Slager fearing for his life as he grabbed for his taser. Instead, the video showed Scott being shot in the back multiple times as he tried to flee.

In other news...

SC lawmaker proposes firing squads for death penalty

$7 billion budget and $236 million borrowing plan advances in Senate

SC House hopes to create capitol police force

State could borrow money for Volvo (The State)

Koch memo outlines state plans from billionaires (Politico)

Book alleges ties to Bill Clinton group swayed Hillary Clinton (Politico)