HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Horry County Police officers are closer to getting body cameras, it is just a few of the topics discussed at the Public Safety Meeting held Monday.
Johnny Harrelson, with Horry County Police, said that 201 officers will get body cameras. They will also undergo training to ensure they know how to use them properly. Most of the officers that will wear body cameras will be patrol or street officers, and officers in the crimes unit. Harrelson said the cameras should arrived by September 1. The department's goal is to have the cameras issued and deployed by September 15.
Horry County Police are still looking to hire. Chief Saundra Rhodes addressed the committee about the status to hire seven new detectives. The positions were approved as part of the county's 2015-2016 budget. Rhodes said all of the detective positions are hires from within the department. According to Chief Rhodes, four detectives will work in the criminal investigations department, while three will add to the gang investigators unit.
Rhodes said because the positions are coming from within the department, they are looking to replace those positions, once those officers are moved. Right now, the promoted officers will stay in their current positions until it is filled. Rhodes said the department currently has five slots at the police academy and they plan to add 10 more between November and January.
HCPD is also working to form a task force, to help combat the recent violence in the area. Rhodes said, " Right now Myrtle Beach has had 5 homicides, and Horry County is now working 14, that's way too many." Rhodes said the task force will work with the ATF. Rhodes said there is no definite time when the task force will start but she said hopefully by the end of September.
The department is also trying to prepare now for a failing radio system. The current Motorola system will be phased out in December 2016. HCPD says they are working on a plan to get a new radio system in place. Officials have been with a consulting firm to determine tower coverage in the area. To install a new system, the county is looking at estimated bill between twelve to fifteen million dollars.
Perhaps the biggest highlight of the public safety meeting, members got to see first-hand the county's dollars in action. Horry County Fire Rescue rolled out three of newest fire apparatuses. The trucks were just in from Pennsylvania, but include one tanker truck, an aerial truck, and a pumper.
According to Interim Chief Scott Thompson, the trucks on display Monday, will head to Sumter to finish being equipped with mounting and other service preparation work, before they will be put to use. Thompson said three other news trucks are already there.
The county approved an $ 8 million dollar budget to purchase the apparatuses. Thompson said in all 13 new fire trucks, ten pumper trucks, a 3,300 gallon tanker, and two aerial ladder trucks, that can extend to a height of 109 feet in the air, will be in used in the county. The trucks are considered safer and more efficient, with a sleek style that come in a deep red color, black trim, and silver. Thompson said, "They will definitely stand out when you see them on the road."
Thompson said the new fleet will come at a time when the current trucks need to be replaced. "We do have units that are 25 and 26 years old, so this purchase will give us the chance to retire those units. We can provide a good service and then the aerial trucks that we currently have are 15 years old so they are ending their lifespan as well, " explained Thompson.
Thompson said this is all about better serving the citizens of Horry County. All thirteen new units should be in full service by October 1.
In addition, to a new fire truck units, HCFR purchased a new ambulance. The county also approved equipping all of the ambulance with new power lift stretchers. The battery operated power stretchers will help paramedics more easily move patients.
Thompson said the new stretchers and ambulance cost the county about $450,000.
[endif]All of the stretchers will be replaced by the end of November of this year.