As soon as the Domestic Violence Bill was signed by the Senate of South Carolina, the Lexington County Sheriff’s office started a training program to ensure that all its officers had a clear understanding of how the law would change the face of response to domestic abuse cases.
The training was held in a bid to better equip police personnel to handle abuse cases. Additionally, it is meant to ascertain that any perpetrators of such crimes, who may have in the past fallen through the cracks in the law, are brought to book.
South Carolina has consistently ranked as the state with the highest number of domestic abuse cases, which created the dire need for a reform in the criminal justice system pertaining to such offenses. Nicole Howland who is leading the training program says that the discussions in the classroom are done on a case by case basis to facilitate a better understanding of the finer nuances of the law.
Howland says that the training programs are started with visuals of domestic abuse victims which help officers identify the tell-tale signs of violence at home. Despite its 21 year history as the domestic abuse capital of the country, few reports against such crimes were filed in the state. This could squarely be blamed on the lax laws that afforded perpetrators several escape routes through legal loopholes.
However, things will be different now that the Domestic Law has been changed to seek punishment based on the severity of the offense, the criminal history of the abuser and the vulnerability of the victim. The training program is designed to make officers understand the differences in how various domestic abuse cases will be treated under the new law.
Lexington County is spearheading the movement to spread awareness about the changes in the criminal code of the state pertaining to such cases. Not only police officers but also state attorneys are being trained.