MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — A 2015 signed law states that all law enforcement are required body cameras, so why don’t all South Carolina Highway Patrol (SCHP) Troopers have them?
News13 has been following the deadly officer-involved shooting from Sept. 11 and learned that SCHP Trooper W.B. Benton wasn’t wearing a body camera.
15th Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said that Benton’s car did have a camera but he didn’t have a body camera. Richardson said not all SCHP have them.
“I’ve seen where the South Carolina Highway patrol has asked for funding for cameras many times and they have been denied and that’s a big agency. That’s 46 counties,” Richardson said.
Richardson said it’s lucky there was a home surveillance camera during the incident.
“We would’ve been in a real mess if where the cars stopped if that were to have been in a place without a camera or a place with the very little camera because we wouldn’t have been able to look at all of this,” Richardson said.
SCHP Captain Kelley Hughes said the Body-Worn Cameras (BWC) Program Fund went into effect in 2016. It’s funded by the General Assembly and it’s distributed among law enforcement agencies who apply for the funding.
SCHP is awarded funding each cycle. Hughes said every year since 2016, they’ve been given money to outfit some of their troopers with them but they’re not required to implement all troopers with them until the agency has received the full funding.
SCHP has a total of 260 body camera devices in the Highway Patrol division. 15 out of 52 troopers including supervisors in Horry County have body cameras. 53 out of 151 troopers including supervisors in Troop 5 have them. Troop 5 includes Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Georgetown, Horry, Marion, Marlboro and Williamsburg counties.
Hughes said they’ve issued 100 body cameras to date this year and 104 body cameras are in the process of being issued as new patrol cars are assigned to the field weekly.
Hughes said all field troopers have been assigned in-car video cameras.
“The South Carolina Highway Patrol will continue to work diligently toward outfitting every trooper with this important tool,” Hughes said.