Oppose SC H3727- Animal Control Should Not Carry Firearms!
Animal Control Officers in South Carolina have no authority to make arrests, yet H3727 would allow them to carry firearms. Why?
SC H 3727 would add the language " A governing body that enacts ordinances and promulgates regulations must employ Class 3 animal control and, at the discretion of the governing body, may authorize these officers to carry firearms." to existing statute. This is horrifying!
South Carolina statutes defining the scope of Class 3 Officers are already incredibly vague, but now the state would allow these officers to carry guns! There is debate about whether such officers are authorized to enforce the law through arrests or serving warrants and the general consensus is that they are not. Their ability to detain suspects until such time as a Class 1 law enforcement officer arrives is also in question, because that detention qualifies as arrest. In general, the description of Class 3 Officers outlines their duties as security, corrections, and administrative code enforcement, but does not grant them the authority to enforce the law. Their training and certification is likewise vague, as described in SC Code. Why do Class 3 Animal Control Officers need to carry firearms?
Arming Class 3 Animal Control officers in an official capacity would create many liability issues for the governing bodies involved. There is no language included to increase the training or certification and no indication in SC Code that these officers are trained in lawful statutory enforcement techniques or observing Civil Liberties. When are they allowed to draw their weapons? Where is the public assurance through clear training and duty definitions in statute that these officers are fully trained and qualified to be armed in the field? If they don't have clear statutory authority to enforce the law, why arm them?
This bill would create the very real potential of Animal Control Officers to intimidate, coerce, harass, and threaten animal owners, and as such, it must be opposed. Elevating their authority without increasing their training is reckless, dangerous, and irresponsible.
Please use the enclosed boilerplate letter as a guide to write your own letter to the House Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Environmental Affairs politely asking them to please OPPOSE SC H3727.