A new bill being proposed in South Carolina could mean that police officers in the state would have to undergo psychological evaluations before being approved to serve as police officers. The bill would also require current police officers to get re-certified.
Psychological exams were provided by the South Carolina Justice Academy on a voluntary basis, the Jasper County Sun Times reports, until 2008, when funding for the program dried up. Rather than re-instating the old voluntary system, the proposed law would set a statewide mandatory standard. State representative Wendell Gilliard, who introduced the bill, said it would ensure that all police officers are screened before being sent out on the streets. The newspaper writes:
Gilliard said a standardized mental evaluation would help agencies detect a new hire's possible post-traumatic stress from being in the armed forces or any "cultural" baggage that an individual may have accumulated.
"What if in my family, a black person commits a home invasion and killed my grandmother," said Gilliard, who is black.
"The only way you’re going to find out (if there is residual bias) is through a mental evaluation."
Earlier this year, South Carolina introduced body cams on police after the killing of Walter Scott by former police officer Michael Slager, who shot at the unarmed man eight times after stopping him for a broken tail light. Slager was charged with murder and is awaiting trial. But the body cam policy has its critics. Under an amendment to the law, footage from cameras attached to police officers are not a matter of public record, Al Jazeera America writes, but footage from cameras attached to police cars will be accessible.
Psychological evaluations of police officers are being considered in other states, too, after unarmed civilians have been killed by police officers. Colorado's Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) is looking at strengthening its psych evaluation requirements with mandatory follow-up tests after an initial evaluation when a police officer is hired. In that state, former police officer James Ashby is awaiting trial on second degree murder charges after shooting and killing 27-year-old Jack Jacquez last October.