North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association issues report on changes recommended in law enforcement
RALEIGH, N.C. (WITN) - A North Carolina sheriffs' association has released a report on where it would like to see the law enforcement profession in the state head following unrest over the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.
Earlier this year the North Carolina Sheriffs' Association put together a group of 13 sheriff’s from across the state, which included Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes. The group was comprised of 7 white and 5 Black sheriffs.
We’re told the group met six different times and heard presentations from several different subject-matter experts. The group then drafted a report which was sent out to all 100 sheriffs for comment before being approved by the associations executive committee.
The report includes several recommendations that will require funding and others that will not. We break down a few of them. You can read the entire list in the link below.
When it comes to use of force, the report supports the development of additional training for law enforcement officers.
It asks that, “Legislation be enacted requiring the North Carolina Attorney General to develop a uniform definition of use of force and a model policy on use of force, both of which must be approved by the North Carolina Sheriffs' Association and the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police before being finalized.”
The report calls for the banning of chokeholds unless the officer needs to defend themselves from what they “reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of deadly physical force” or other authorization stated in G.S. § 15A-401(d)(2)
One of the changes the report anticipates will require funding involves Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET).
It supports looking into the feasibility of requiring that BLET candidates attend an in-residence program at the North Carolina Justice Academy’s Salemburg and Edneyville campuses and moving away from a decentralized delivery system.
In addition, the report supports the commissions study, “Recommending whether agencies or certified schools who could fund and manage their own in-residence BLET program should be part of a new centralized delivery.”
With the current system the report states that work is underway to update and improve the state’s current BLET training. The new curriculum is slated to begin in January of 2022 with pilot testing with statewide implementation tentatively set for January 2023.
The new program will consist of 700 hours. The current program requires a minimum of 640 hours of training.
The report would like to see forty hours of crisis intervention training and civil unrest training worked into the curriculum.
The sheriff’s association says that it would like to see an improvement in three areas of the current BLET apparatus:
-Improve the lack of consistency of delivery of the material by instructors.
-Improve the quality of instruction across the State.
-Increase enrollment standards so that each class has a sufficient number of students to ensure the quality of instruction.
The report would like to see the two commissions that set standards for entry into law enforcement for different jobs (deputies, police officers, etc.) to have the same uniform requirements.
“There are four areas in which current minimum standards of the Commissions vary: (1) applicant age, (2) requirements for psychological screening prior to certification, (3) employment prior to certification, and (4) requirements regarding prior misdemeanor criminal history,” the report states.
The report is also calling for more transparency among law enforcement in the sharing of records when a person applies for a job at another agency.
There can be reservation by some agencies that they might be releasing too much information about a prior employee, which the report says can result in agency’s hiring someone they might not know has had trouble in the past.
The report calls for various action by the legislature including a new statute that mandates that, “agencies releasing such records in good faith shall not face civil or criminal liability for production of those records to an applicant’s or lateral transfer’s hiring agency or to the Divisions.”
The association is also backing the creation of a publicly searchable database of decertified North Carolina law enforcement officers. The report states that work is being done to make this database accessible on the North Carolina Department of Justice webpage by the end of 2020.
The report does not call for any changes to qualified immunity for officers and it also supports restrictions passed by the legislature in 2016 that body cam and dash cam footage is not public record.
"A law which allowed for broader release of law enforcement agency recordings could potentially have a chilling effect on the public’s interests in calling on law enforcement for assistance or cooperating in a law enforcement investigation.”
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