SC Law Enforcement offers a comprehensive overview of training methods

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COLUMBIA, SC (WCBD) — The scrutiny of law enforcement practices and training has increased in recent years following a number of deaths and shootings involving officers across the country. Leaders say that while there are wrongdoings in every profession, the incidents have led to improved training methods which they believe will turn the narrative around.

The death of George Floyd nationwide, and then Jamal Sutherland in the Lowcountry, just years after the shooting of Walter Scott, has sparked local demands for changes to the law enforcement training process.
Agencies say this is something they are working to resolve and believe South Carolina is ahead of the curve.

Violent crimes in South Carolina have seen an increase in 2021, with homicides alone up 25%. Law enforcement says it’s something they’re working to fix.

“Because it’s extra lives lost that we don’t like,” says Jackie Swindler, director of the South Carolina Justice Academy in Colombia. “Could it be better?” Always. Everything could be better. »

The rise in crime has been accompanied by a decline in overall trust in law enforcement nationwide. Director Swindler says rebuilding trust between law enforcement and the community starts with eliminating wrongdoing.

“We hold officers accountable in this state, there are a lot of states that don’t,” Swindler says. “We do it here. We watch the police.

Every officer in South Carolina undergoes training at the Criminal Justice Academy (CJA). The training includes four weeks at home and an eight-week course of classroom work and simulated practical situations at the academy’s multi-acre Crisis Village.

At the academy, officers undergo training in firearms, driving, simulations of practical situations and more before graduating and returning to their agency where some undergo additional training.

“They can replicate any number of calls or situations that they’ll face when they go out,” Swindler explains.

Locally, the Charleston Police Department (CPD) has one of the longest training programs, requiring 34 weeks of varied training before certifying them for the job.

“We can spend 34 weeks in training, but you can still have every type of response or exposure to every type of call service that you might encounter,” says Sergeant Joseph Harvill, Professional Development and Training Coordinator for CPD.

Both the CJA and CPD use virtual training to simulate decision-making under pressure, practice de-escalation and more. Leaders believe this is something that makes a difference.

“In 2021, we had 263,000 calls for service and, outside of those calls for service, we had 306 use of force incidents.

Statewide, South Carolina has more than 14,000 officers. Last year there were 155 allegations of misconduct and with tens of thousands of hours of training provided last year at the academy, Swindler believes changing the narrative means continuous training and change.

“We’re not going to do what we’ve always done and expect different results,” Swindler says. “We will strive to stay relevant at the cutting edge of technology and use whatever we can.”

Law enforcement officials hope the perspective of the badge will change over time while pursuing new approaches to training those sworn to protect and serve.

“Stay on top and we can always, always do better in a way where we give back to our agents and we give back to our communities,” says Harvill.

“They can’t do it alone, they need the community to support them and be on their side,” Swindler says.

The Charleston Police Department provides ongoing leadership and regular 40-hour training every two weeks for all officers in the department.

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