Surfside Beach takes first step to divide police, fire departments

SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The Surfside Beach Town Council has passed a first reading of an ordinance aimed at dividing the town's Public Safety Department into separate police and fire departments.

The decision came at a Town Council meeting Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. that featured the ordinance that revises the current department's structure.

Mayor Pro Tem Sammy Truett said should the town decide to stay under the Public Safety Department umbrella, it would be a costly move for the town. Since developing the Public Safety Department, Truett said the Surfside Beach Fire Department has been turned down for $3.3 million in federal SAFER Grants.

"We could duel certify all of our officers, but we're talking a lot of money," Mayor Pro Tem Sammy  explained. "We're talking probably three-fourths of a million dollars we would have to add to our budget plus more police officers [and] more firefighters."

All grants applied for by Surfside Beach, Truett said, have either been dismissed or denied.

To move forward on the potential plans in Surfside Beach, Town Council has decided to hire a consultant to help weigh the advantages of the potential department split.

A second reading has not been scheduled on the issue. The Surfside Beach Town Council said it will wait for a report from a consultant before scheduling a second hearing.

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