Legislators override warrantless search veto - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Legislators override warrantless search veto

Columbia, SC -

COLUMBIA, SC (WMBF) - South Carolina legislators have overridden Gov. Mark Sanford's veto of a bill allowing police officers to search people on probation and parole without a warrant.

The vote comes as a second attempt Wednesday, barely reaching the needed two-thirds majority to supersede the veto. The House made the decision with a 74-37 vote.

Last week, the chamber fell 16 votes shy after the Senate voted 36-7 earlier in the month to override.

The new law would allow officers to bypass going to a judge for a warrant before searching someone on probation or parole on the street. The vehicle they're in and any of their possessions could also be searched. It does not allow searches of homes.

Capt. David Knipes, spokesman for the Myrtle Beach Police Department, says the law will help area parole officers get more criminals off the streets. Knipes says before the searches, officers must have a probable cause.

"The law enforcement can also have some of the same tools that they use, and that brings in about 16,000 in the state," Knipes said. "If they see someone who they verify as [being on] probation through the system, they can approach them and have reasonable suspicion that they are committing a crime."

Others, however, believe the new legislation will lead to mistaken identities and discrimination.

"They can come up with anything for a probable cause if they want to," Gary Champine said, who is against the law. "I think it will in some point in time lead to discrimination."

Inmates must agree to these searches before they are released on parole or stay in prison their full term.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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