Cindi Scoppe’s picking on my girl Nikki again, and unfortunately, she deserves it. Did you see Cindi’s column Thursday?
FOR ALL THE good she has done on several issues, Gov. Haley retains two deeply troubling flaws: her disregard for the rule of law and her disinterest in the truth….
During a visit to a Columbia prison, Gov. Haley assured an inmate that police officers aren’t “out to get you.” Because of the state’s new body camera law, she said, “every one of those officers has to wear a body camera, and the reason is, that way it’s fair to them and it’s fair to you. So if something happens, we can see it.”
That sounds like a great law. But it’s not the law the governor signed, as The Associated Press’ Seanna Adcox pointed out — and bless her for recognizing that one of the most important things a reporter can do is to tell us what the facts actually are rather than simply regurgitating what public figures say the facts are.
The law does not actually require “every one of those officers” to wear a body camera; each department gets to decide which officers wear body cameras, and it won’t necessarily be every uniformed officer who wears a gun.
The requirement does not actually kick in until the state pays for the program — projected to cost up to $21 million, or about $18 million more than it has provided so far. (Ms. Adcox noted that the Legislature passed a law 18 years ago requiring all drunken-driving arrests to be videotaped, but the state still hasn’t provided cameras for all police cars.)…
Thanks, Cindi. And thanks, Seanna. But you know, it would be nice if governor would just state the facts so that journalists don’t have to run around behind her setting things straight. I mean, they have their hands full without that.
It gets worse, by the way:
Most significantly, the law the governor signed will not actually let us see the video. The law the governor signed says body-cam videos aren’t even public records. It does require police to turn over the video to people who are arrested or who file a civil suit involving the incident recorded, but the only mechanism for obtaining that video is filing a lawsuit — or being charged with a crime. Otherwise, it’s entirely up to police to decide whether we get to see the video when an officer shoots someone….
The initial error is probably innocent enough (I suspect it felt true to the governor), although disturbing — we’d really like our governors to know what they’re signing.
But the worst part of this tale is that when given a chance to set things straight, the governor’s office did not. And about that, Cindi said:
When someone says, “The law the governor described is not the law she signed,” the correct response is not, “She’s so proud of that law.” The correct response is: “Oh, my goodness; you’re right. She is so sorry about that.”
By refusing to let her spokeswoman say that, the governor continues to make herself un-credible. And in this case, she is doing something worse: She is reducing the chance that we’ll ever get the law she told that inmate we have. The law that would be something to be really proud of.
The way to get that law is not to say it exists when it doesn’t. It’s to acknowledge that it does not exist, and to work to convince the Legislature to pass it.