WILLIAMSTON, S.C. (WIS) - According to Chairman John Tucker with South Carolina Law Enforcement Accreditation (SCLEA), only 57 agencies in South Carolina have earned some form of voluntary accreditation.
There are a total of 319 agencies in South Carolina right now.
Williamston Police Chief Tony Taylor said his small agency is taking steps to earn state accreditation. Even though it’s a voluntary process, Taylor said he believes every law enforcement agency in the state should get accreditated.
“I think every agency should be compliant with a set of achievable standards that reflect integrity, professionalism and community engagement,” Taylor said.
It does come at a price. The application fee for state accreditation is only $200. Agencies have to pay that fee every year. But Taylor said he’s had to buy a new equipment and system and had to hire an “accreditation manager” to oversee the process.
“I’ll have about $15,000 to $20,000 in it this year to get it done,” Taylor said.
Tucker said he hopes one day to see every agency in South Carolina become accredited. He said it helps keep law enforcement accountable and protects them as well.
According to Tucker, SCLEA has created more than 200 standards their accredited agencies follow.
Policies and procedures for use of force, chases, and how to handle large demonstrations are among the items listed.
Tucker also said accredited agencies have fewer complaints against them than those who aren’t accredited. He said the reason more agencies don’t opt to get accredited is because of funding. It is also time-consuming. It takes three years to get state accreditation.
“Budgeting is an important issue for most law enforcement agencies. You have to determine where you’re going to spend your money, whether you’re spending it on accreditation or you’ll be spending it on hiring somebody to patrol your cities,” Tucker said.
Law enforcement leaders told lawmakers they believe incentivizing law enforcement agencies to get accredited would help bring the number up.
Scroll down to see a list of accredited agencies.