- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:

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Aug. 12

The Sun News of Myrtle Beach on an increase in the number of women charged with domestic violence:

It’s long been accepted that men who were abused as boys are likely to be violent with spouses or significant others. A new compilation of domestic violence cases in Horry County shows that women are charged in nearly one fourth of the situations.

Of 1,142 persons charged with domestic violence at the J. Reuben Long Detention Center in Conway, 23 percent were females. That finding was shocking to Katrina Morrison of Little River. “I wanted to see what is happening,” so she compiled 341 pages of domestic violence cases booked at the Horry County facility from Aug. 1, 2016 through July 31, 2017.

The new trend in more women being charged in part is “attributed to females being raised in violent environments,” she said. It may also be related to male victims being more willing to report their situations to law enforcement.

Morrison presented her findings, in a white, three-ring binder, to Horry County’s Community Violence Sub-Committee. At the same meeting last week, the United Way Association of South Carolina showed committee members a free and confidential application for mobile phones, connecting potential victims of domestic violence with the 2-1-1 system, which puts callers in touch with a variety of social services. The sub-committee was created by the Horry County Council.

Morrison’s data by no means includes all the domestic violence cases in Horry County. The city of Myrtle Beach, for example, handles domestic violence cases in a city facility and those are not included. For 17 years, Horry County has had the highest per capita rate of domestic violence cases in the nation. In the latest data, Horry has fallen to No. 2.

Morrison, a legal consultant to the aviation industry, has organized a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Retreat With Dignity, and is in the process of establishing a shelter for domestic violence victims. Since the collapse of CASA several years ago, Horry County has not had a shelter for domestic violence victims. The Family Justice Center of Georgetown County has sheltered some Horry victims.

The center is in the process of establishing a Myrtle Beach area shelter, and will receive some funding from the United Way of Horry County in 2018. With an average of 95 cases of domestic violence a month at the Long Detention Center alone, Horry County will continue to have more victims than shelter space. “What I’m doing (falls well short of) what we need,” Morrison said.

“It’s bad; we’ve got a lot of domestic violence,” S.C. Sen. Greg Hembree said. As a long-time prosecutor, Hembree has closely observed domestic violence for three decades. He first prosecuted domestic violence cases in 1987. “I’ve watched it evolve, in a good way. People are more willing to report domestic violence, and police officers are better trained” to handle situations and make arrests. These changes in societal norms undoubtedly figure in the higher numbers.

Thirty years ago, and more recently, judges often viewed domestic violence as a private matter, not for law enforcement or the courts.

“That culture has absolutely changed,” Hembree said. In recent years, the state has earmarked money for additional prosecutors for domestic violence cases. “There was a major, major rewrite of domestic violence in the criminal code.”

Recently, the legislature approved restructuring of state services for victims, placing services under the attorney general.

“Domestic violence was the first recorded crime in human history,” Hembree said, referring to the biblical account (Genesis 4) of Cain killing his brother Abel. “It’s still a terrible problem.”

Online: https://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/

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Aug. 7

The Herald-Journal of Spartanburg on doing good in the face of evil:

Americans were shocked and dismayed this past weekend at the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a white nationalist rally turned into violence.

Even if physical violence had not erupted, it would still have been an extremely disturbing event. To see mostly young Americans declaring that one group deserves control and ascendancy in this nation at the exclusion of other racial and ethnic groups is anathema to every goal this nation holds dear.

We should be careful to accurately define what the white nationalist rally stood for. This is not just a different opinion, a varying perspective, someone with another political point of view. This is evil. This hatred, this desire to dominate and oppress other groups of people, is simply evil.

The question before this nation is how we respond to evil.

Some will say we should ignore it, deny these people the attention they crave. Communities in this area have taken that direction for the past few decades whenever the remnants of the Ku Klux Klan ventured into public. We didn’t really respond and treated them as a distasteful curiosity.

But these people are emboldened now. They think, mistakenly, that history is on their side and that now is the time to move toward their goals. Silence may be taken as acquiescence, and we cannot afford to send that message.

Silence could also be taken as fear. And that will reward them. They want to instill fear. It’s why they came prepared for violence. The decent core of our society, the majority who are horrified by the goals of the racists and xenophobes, should not be cowed by these bullies, and we have no reason to be. Despite all their noise, the white nationalists are few in number.

There were some who decided to respond in kind. The anti-fascist groups came looking for trouble and found it. It is tempting to want to use force to stifle the voices of hatred, but more violence is almost never the solution.

We don’t want to silence the voices of racism through violence or by shouting them down. We don’t want to give up our cherished free speech rights because we find it occasionally inconvenient and distasteful. We want to silence the voices of evil by showing them how wrong they are and by making them ashamed of what they demand.

The proper response to evil is to do more good. That could be seen in Charlottesville over the weekend as well. Many peaceful protesters came out to show their intention to embrace all people, to continue to push for the unified and equal nation we strive to create.

That response could be seen in this community and others all across the nation, where people came out to declare that they would have no part in the hatred. This is how we have to respond. We must be quick to declare at every level of our society that this is not just a difference of opinion. The malevolent goals and failed ideologies of the white nationalists are evil, and we will all oppose them.

Then we work to further bring our communities together, to break down existing boundaries to expand unity and equality, to work together to move our society even further away from what the racist fringe demands and closer to that which the majority of this nation aspires.

Online: https://www.goupstate.com/

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Aug. 14

The Post and Courier of Charleston on a proposal to create a state-by-state database of police shootings:

Nearly 1,000 people are fatally shot by police in the United States annually, but no one knows exactly how many - or more importantly why.

We know about 1,000 people died only because The Washington Post started an officer-involved shooting database in 2015.

It’s almost inconceivable in an era of Big Data, but no national, government-run database exists. This summer the FBI started a pilot program to collect data on all police use-of-force incidents from about 50 police agencies, and the FBI is expected to expand the program nationwide next year. But so far, there is no requirement that police agencies cooperate.

The aim of having reliable and comprehensive information is simple - to help reduce deadly police encounters by getting a clearer picture of what happened.

Now, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., is trying once again to get a law on the books that would create a state-by-state database.

“When it comes to tracking police shootings, we need a data system built for the 21st century,” Mr. Scott said when he introduced the bill last month.

The Walter Scott Notification Act, named for the unarmed motorist fatally shot by a North Charleston police officer in 2015, would require states to collect the data on all officer-involved shootings, including non-fatal shootings.

Agencies would be required to report basic information, such as the name, age, race and sex of the person shot; whether they were armed or suffering from a mental health issue; the age, race and sex of the officers involved. The bill also would require a synopsis of the shooting and what led to it, and how the shooting was adjudicated. That would go far beyond what has been assembled so far.

And there’s evidence that crunching Big Data is working in a few big cities where detailed information is being collected. In Los Angeles, officer-involved shooting deaths have dropped from 47 in 2015 to less than 10 so far this year.

In Chicago, police recently disclosed data that showed than an officer opens fire on someone every five days on average, and that 435 police shootings occurred from 2010 through 2015. Ninety-two people were killed and 170 others were wounded. That initial peek at the police department’s internal records, however, came only after a seven-month legal battle waged by the Chicago Tribune.

Under Sen. Scott’s bill, states that fail to adhere to the reporting requirements could see their federal funding for law enforcement reduced by 10 percent.

Why the stick? Apparently because police agencies have failed to the see the carrot - improved trust and better officer safety. Moreover, they distrust civilian oversight that could lead to policy changes.

Resistance from police unions, inconsistent reporting standards and misconstrued concepts about personal privacy also have hampered efforts to gather impartial facts in officer-involved shootings and use-of-force arrests.

In cases where egregious mistakes were made, police tend to clam up, which typically increases media attention. Take for instance the recent shooting death of an Australian woman who reported a possible sexual assault in an alley behind her Minneapolis home and ended up being fatally shot by a responding officer.

Sen. Scott sees his bill as a way to help rebuild public trust.

He reintroduced the bill after a 2015 effort failed, but he’s hopeful his fellow lawmakers will get behind the effort this time. His co-sponsor, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sen. Grassley’s support should help the bill make its way to the Senate floor.

“We don’t have a comprehensive system to learn more about these events so that we can better prevent them in the future,” Mr. Grassley said.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post’s tally for deadly officer-involved shootings is on pace to match those from the past two years - about 1,000.

Godspeed, senators.

Online: https://www.postandcourier.com/

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