Fraternal Order of Police President reacts to county administrat - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Fraternal Order of Police President reacts to county administrator's recent raise

As the National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, and a retired Horry County Policeman himself, Canterbury wants to believe the county council knows the severity of the situation before them. As the National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, and a retired Horry County Policeman himself, Canterbury wants to believe the county council knows the severity of the situation before them.
HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Emotions are still raw after news of a big pay raise for the Horry County Administrator.

"We just want to be competitive, we want to be able to work here, raise our families here, we're tax payers here, they just want a livable wage," said Chuck Canterbury, the National President of the Fraternal Order of Police.

Public Safety employees put their lives on the line everyday to keep you safe, but some are threatening to leave if the county doesn't increase their pay. News of administrator Chris Eldridge's raise doesn't sit well with county police and fire, especially after recently hearing their benefits may be cut. Some say if things don't change, it will affect you at home.

"To say you can't fund public safety fully, that you can't hire ten police officers, because you don't have the money to hire them, and you freeze those vacancies, and then you give a raise of that size, it makes you wonder," Canterbury said. 


Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus defended Eldridge's raise after it was announced earlier this week.


"He's not here to win a popularity contest by any means, he's here to make tough decisions, and run a business, and I think he's done that," Lazarus said Wednesday. As County Administrator, Eldridge oversees more than 30 departments and manages the day-to-day operations of the county.

As the National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, and a retired Horry County Policeman himself, Canterbury wants to believe the county council knows the severity of the situation before them.


"We very much appreciate his comments that they weren't going to balance the budget on the backs of employees, but the proof is in the pudding, we want to see it," Canterbury said.

Canterbury also admired the fact that council did not give Eldridge the raise based on performance. He does not believe that could be done for all county employees, especially public safety employees. 

He believes officers should strive for being responsive, and their efforts in crime prevention, not how many people they ticket. However, Canterbury says county public safety employee salaries need to start matching surrounding departments, and starting salaries need to be raised.

"When you have a family of four, that qualifies for food stamps, or Obamacare, with their starting salary, you know, these guys are worried," Canterbury added. He mentioned a couple years ago, the county also eliminated their step program, meaning no more yearly raises for employees, and now someone who just started, a rookie, could be making a couple hundred dollars less than someone who's been there for years. 

Canterbury feels that also needs to be addressed as soon as possible. While he says he does understand there are budget issues, he feels council should focus on what's most important. 

"But there is nothing more important than public safety, and that starts with the personnel that are going to respond to your house being burglarized or respond to your house on fire," Canterbury said. 

Canterbury explains there is already a shortage of emergency responders in Horry County. 

"Horry County's officer per thousand is already way below the national average of 2.4, we're less than one," Canterbury explained. 

To put it into perspective, Canterbury says the city of Myrtle Beach has about seven officers per thousand and they receive less calls.

Canterbury fears the problem will reach an all time high if things don't change.

"Response times are going to be greatly increased, you know most of these officers who live here, and raise their families here, they love it Horry County, they want to stay here, but there comes a point, where you have to pick up and go," Canterbury said. 

While a decision on the pay and benefits for county public safety employees has not been made yet, Canterbury wants people to understand that qualified employees could be leaving and that would not save money, it would cost money to hire and train new ones.

Copyright 2015 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly