South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford will call together the state’s top law enforcement officials to seek solutions to the challenge of keeping problem cops off the streets, reports the Charleston Post and Courier. Sanford responded to a three-day series in which The Post and Courier reported how officers are allowed to jump from department to department, despite histories of professional misconduct and criminal behavior. The series, which ended yesterday, also exposed local and state system failures that allow the problem to fester.
The series, “Tarnished Badges,” showed that officers with criminal records sometimes land police jobs after completing court programs that wipe convictions off their records. Other officers who engage in professional misconduct are allowed to resign, avoiding the stigma of a firing. South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy Director William Neill agrees that his agency needs more resources to clamp down on troubled cops. He said several changes are already under way, including the reassignment of the academy official whose unit tracks and disciplines police officers. Jeff Moore of the South Carolina Sheriff’s Association said local law enforcement agencies need to do a better job of watching the gate and stop trying to hire applicants with questionable backgrounds. “I think we just have to accept that some people are not going to be allowed to work and carry a badge and a gun,” he said. “At some point, you forfeit that right.”