I-TEAM: How are police officers questioned in misconduct cases still able to get jobs?

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Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

SALUDA COUNTY, SC (WRDW/WAGT) -- Law enforcement commonly calls them "gypsy cops." They're officers who frequently transfer from agency to agency often under allegations misconduct or violating department policy.

Deputy Charles Browder made national news this summer for body cam video showing him arresting Georgia Southern QB Shai Werts for drugs. Turns out the white stuff on Werts’ car wasn't cocaine.

We've been digging into Browder's history and uncovered a string of bad behavior. Yet the state of South Carolina still allows him to wear a badge.

Browder resigned recently from the Saluda County Sheriff’s Office in lieu of termination after this video emerged of him responding to an alleged domestic situation involving a potentially suicidal woman.

He left the Lexington County Sheriff's Department during the middle of another investigation. He admitted to sending in appropriate texts and a picture to a minor and for having a sexual relationship with a woman while on duty. Because he resigned, he didn't lose his law enforcement certification. That’s how he was able to take a job with Saluda County.

"They may see what is commonly referred to as ‘gypsy cops’ -- someone who has gone from agency to agency to agency to agency," Director Jackie Swindler with the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy said.

Swindler’s agency certifies law enforcement agents in South Carolina.

“May not be that that officer ever did anything that rose to the level of misconduct, but they can certainly see they have left under clouds of,” Swindler said. “Because the paper work follows them, it says they were terminated for violation of policy, terminated for poor performance, they were terminated for it could be anything. There would be facts."

It's up to a law enforcement agency to report misconduct to the academy. The academy then takes the information to the training council for a hearing. However, if the agency doesn't report it to the academy, it's unlikely the officer will ever lose his or her certification.

"Once you are deemed a liar and misconduct of lying, you are of no value to longer law enforcement because you lost your integrity,” Swindler said. “You can't get on the stand, so you are really of no value."

While Browder wasn't found guilty of misconduct, the solicitor of the 11th Judicial Court has questioned the deputy's integrity, ethics, and honesty. Browder can take another job, but he can't testify in his courtroom.

Browder's name is on what's called as the Brady List, or Do Not Call list. They are law enforcement officers whose integrity could be questioned on the stand.

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