SC law enforcement backs the ‘PACT Act’

COLUMBIA (WOLO): After a difficult year for police reform across the nation, a bill making its way through the South Carolina legislature focuses on re-establishing trust on both sides in our community.

The PACT Act stands for Police And Communities Together, and that’s exactly what House Representative Chris Wooten (R) District 69, wants to do. “The PACT Act is a bond. And the bond is just the fact that two people have skin in the game,” said Wooten.

That bond, according to Rep. Wooten, would be a great start in re-building a positive relationship between the public and law enforcement. “The public says ‘hey we’re gonna give you all the resources necessary and the police officers are saying ‘we’re gonna do our job the best we can with integrity and honor,’ like most everyone does already with minimal resources.”

Included in the PACT Act: defining the term ‘choke-hold,’ and make it unlawful for a law enforcement officer to use a choke-hold under certain circumstances; imploring officers to intervene in all cases; and standardized state funding. “We’ve also put in there pay raises for law enforcement officers, and PTSD funding. I would hope that through this we can recruit and retain our officers better. We’re losing 30% of our law enforcement officers that graduated last year. 30 percent have already left the field,” said Wooten. 

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott says the bill would benefit all of the state’s law enforcement by also weeding out the so-called ‘bad cops.’ “We don’t like bad cops either. The community doesn’t like them, neither does the good cops. So I think that targets those bad cops and gives our state ways to make sure we don’t have them,” said Lott. 

Rep. Wooten explains, “what this does is that department has to report to the Criminal Justice Academy to make sure we know why that officer left and if it’s grounds for him not to be hired somewhere else.”

Columbia Police Department Chief Holbrook says he would also support the passing of the PACT Act. “I think this legislation just helps us. To me, it’s another step forward in building public trust, ” said Chief Holbrook. 

Designed to bring a little hope to officers on the job, Sheriff Lott says the bill is long overdue. “We realize and we have for a long time that we need to move forward, we need to make changes…unfortunately it took some citizens being killed to make that happen. So I’m glad to see it’s finally happening.”

The PACT Act is a bipartisan bill with 83 co-sponsors. For more information on this bill, click here.

Categories: Local News, State