South Carolina has decided to no longer list the names of officers involved in shootings unless they’ve been charged with a crime.
The new practice was prompted after a man allegedly sought after four deputies involved in a fatal shooting and approached them with a knife, according to Greenville News.
13th Circuit Solicitor Walt Wilkins presented a memo for the new policy. “While a case is under review and no charges are made, we’re not going to identify a particular officer who had just had to use his service weapon… We’re not going to subject him to scrutiny by the public until a case has been vetted and completed. They still have the same rights as everybody else,” Wilkins said.
The only exception is if video footage of a police-involved shooting goes public then the officer’s identity will likely be known, the former United States Circuit Judge added.
“We’ve had officers around the country and here be threatened with physical violence with family members or others in the community,” Wilkins said.
Seth Stoughton, a former officer turned professor of University of South Carolina School of Law said he thinks the new policy is a complete mistake.
“For one, I think refusing to release an officer’s name is frankly anti-democratic… Particularly with the relatively extreme action of taking someone’s life or attempting to by shooting at them, there’s a strong public interest in knowing relevant details and that includes an officer’s name,” Stoughton told Greenville News.