Important Legislative Updates
INSIGHTS FROM OUR CEO
In July, Senate Bill 300, Criminal Justice Reform, began moving forward in the North Carolina House of Representatives. The House Judiciary 2 Committee made several changes to the bill, including an amendment to our language. The amendment would allow the use of virtual psychological evaluations if an in-person evaluation were not practical. While conducting in-person clinical interviews may be ideal, COVID-19 taught us that telepsych is an efficient option and does not diminish clinical practices. The new language reads as follows:
“The Commission shall require the administration of a psychological screening examination, including a face-to-face, in-person interview conducted by a licensed psychologist, to determine the criminal justice officer’s psychological suitability to properly fulfill the responsibilities of the criminal justice officer. If face to face in person is not practicable, the face to face evaluation can be virtual as long as both the audio and video allow for a professional clinical evaluation in a clinical environment.”
This provision would apply to both Criminal Justice Officers and Justice Officers. For reference, here is how both of these positions are defined by North Carolina General Statute:
Criminal Justice Officer: The administrative and subordinate personnel of all the departments, agencies, units or entities comprising the criminal justice agencies who are sworn law-enforcement officers, both State and local, with the power of arrest; State correctional officers; State probation/parole officers; State probation/parole officers-surveillance; officers, supervisory and administrative personnel of local confinement facilities; State juvenile justice officers; chief court counselors; and juvenile court counselors.
- A person who, through the special trust and confidence of the sheriff, has taken the oath of office prescribed by Chapter 11 of these statutes as a peace officer in the office of a sheriff. This term includes “deputy sheriffs,” “reserve deputy sheriffs,” and “special deputy sheriffs” but does not include clerical and support personnel not required to take an oath. The term “special deputy” means a person, who, through appointment by the sheriff becomes an unpaid criminal justice officer to perform a specific act directed to the person by the sheriff; or
- A person who, through the special trust and confidence of the sheriff, has been appointed as a detention officer by the sheriff; or
- A person who is either the administrator or other custodial personnel of district confinement facilities as defined in G.S. 153A-219. Nothing in this Chapter shall transfer any supervisory or administrative control of employees of district confinement facilities to the office of the sheriff; and
- A person who, through the special trust and confidence of the sheriff, is under the direct supervision and control of the Sheriff and serves as a telecommunicator, or who is presented to the Commission for appointment as a telecommunicator by an employing entity other than the sheriff for the purpose of obtaining certification from the Commission as a telecommunicator.
This bill has several steps to go before it crosses the finish line. During the debate of the bill, the House Judiciary 2 Committee elected to remove the language pertaining to body camera footage and rioting from the bill. SB300 could be heard in House Rules as early as this week. The bill would then need a House Floor Vote, Senate Concurrence Vote, and then it will be sent to Gov. Cooper for his signature. We continue to be in support of this bill, specific to upholding the best practices of psychological evaluations. We ask you for your help to keep pushing our legislators to move forward!
Elizabeth Morris, M.A.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Phone: 336-761-0764 ext. 1011
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