HCPD Capt. named Interim Chief after turning down Hartsville job

Capt. Saundra Rhodes (Source: HCPD)
Capt. Saundra Rhodes (Source: HCPD)

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) The Chief of Horry County Police will retire on June 30, and a woman who previously turned down a position with the Hartsville Police Department will take over, according to officials in Horry County.

Sgt. Robert Kegler, spokesman for the Horry County Police Department, told WMBF News Chief Johnny Morgan sent an email out to his staff around 12:20 p.m. Friday that he was planning to retire sometime this year.

WMBF News obtained that email:

Too all, after 37 and one half years I have now decided to retire from my position as your Chief. I will be on an extended leave of absence until June 30th, 2012 which will end my 38 year tenure with Horry County. I wanted you the men and women of this department to know my intentions before anyone else. It has been my pleasure to serve as your Chief and those years for some of you to work beside you in other capacities. It is a sad day, but on the other hand one I have long being looking forward to. My intention was always to leave this year, however due to the SLED investigation I felt my retirement wasn't even a thought until such time as we were cleared and the case against this department was closed. That day has now come and it is time for me to leave. We have accomplished much with this department and certainly a long way from July 1, 1974 when I started as a patrolman. I will miss you all, good luck and know that as far as I am concerned, you are the very best of the best bar none! Johnny Morgan, Chief of Police

Lisa Bourcier, spokeswoman for Horry County, said Morgan will be on extended leave until June 30, when he will officially retire from the Horry County Police Department. His last day will be Feb. 17.

Chief Morgan began his career with the City of Myrtle Beach in 1971 and moved to Horry County Police in 1974, according to Horry County Police.

In 1980 he became a detective and was promoted to Lieutenant in October of 1985.

Chief Morgan continued to serve with Horry County Police until he was officially promoted to Chief of Police in September of 2004.

Bourcier said Horry County Assistant Administrator Paul Whitten has appointed Capt. Saundra Rhodes as Interim Chief. Supporters of Rhodes applaud the appointment, saying her promotion gives a new face to the Horry County Police.

"For the first time it's a woman in this position," says former Horry County Council Chair Liz Gilland. "I think she is just going to shine in that position."

Rhodes was originally offered the position as Chief of Police for the City of Hartsville, but later turned it down stating family reasons.

"Johnny has served our county well and has led our police department to be one of the finest police departments in this state," said Whitten. "His knowledge of the county, the department, and his policing philosophy will be missed."

The following is a statement made by Chief Morgan:

It is with mixed emotions that I am retiring as the Chief of Police with Horry County. My whole life has been in law enforcement and these fine men and women that serve to protect our County are my family and I will miss them. 

It is a sad day, but on the other hand one I have been looking forward to. My intention was always to leave this year, however due to the SLED investigation I felt my retirement wasn't even a thought until such time as the department was cleared and the case against the department was closed. That day has now come and it is time for me to leave.

I would like to thank the County for the many opportunities I have been afforded through my 38 years of employment with the Horry County Police Department. I am also grateful for a fulfilling career in which I was given every opportunity to make a difference in this great community.

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