HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Horry County Police Chief Saundra Rhodes announced her retirement Monday, effective May 6, 2016, according to a news release from the department.
Horry County Administrator, Chris Eldridge, has appointed Deputy Chief Kelvin Waites as Interim Chief, according to a news release from the county government.
More details about the retirement are in Rhodes' announcement below:
Today with nothing but great resolution and a strong sense of pride I announce my retirement as the Horry County Chief of Police effective May 6th 2016.
I have had an outstanding opportunity to help many great officers grow in their desire to be professionals in law enforcement, transition the Horry County Police from a once traditional organization to a leaner more responsive department focused on community service. The department has never in the history of Horry County had such dedicated men and women serving our community.
In a world that constantly is changing and while some attitudes towards Law Enforcement Officers reach an all time low, the Horry County Police Department has continued to be professional in all of its efforts. For that, I will be eternally proud and grateful. I can honestly say that my prayers have been answered each and every day that no Horry County Police Officer has been killed in the line of duty during my tenure as Police Chief.
No police department can succeed by itself, along with the hard work of my staff, the support that I have received from local government, the business community, local churches and the citizens of this great County has been unwavering and for that I will always be grateful.
I am looking forward to future challenges that will measure up to that as I have faced thus far in my career.
I am leaving with the confidence that the Department will continue to be led by dedicated and motivated leaders and I know that the Department can only benefit from the fresh perspectives and new ideas that these individuals will bring.
During the remainder of my tenure with the Horry County Police I will be focusing on the transition to an Interim Chief.
Rhodes was appointed as the Horry County Chief of Police in 2012 when her interim tag was removed. She took over for Johnny Morgan when he retired, after turning down the position to be the chief for the City of Hartsville. Rhodes began working for the Horry County Police Department in 1993 as a detective and has worked her way up through the chain of command as sergeant, lieutenant and captain. She was the first African-American and female Police Chief for the department. She is credited with revamping the recruiting process to recruit qualified minority and female candidates.
The chief earned a salary of $110,339.84 in 2015, according to data provided by the county.
Two years ago, Rhodes was recognized as the 2014 Woman Law Enforcement Executive of the Year.
According to the HCPD's website, Waites is responsible for the Uniform Patrol Division at the Horry County Police Department. He started his law enforcement career in 1997 at the Georgetown County Sheriff's Office after serving four years in the United States Army.
The change in the HCPD's top position comes as individuals in the department are under investigation from larger entities.
Det. Allen Large, a veteran detective and Horry County employee for more than 27 years, was fired after a 2015 internal investigation revealed sustained allegations of sexual harassment.
Over 80 cases, many involving rape, child abuse and assault, had to be reopened after an investigation revealed Detective Daryl Williams did not address the cases fully, or addressed the cases inappropriately. A WMBF news investigation last year revealed former detective Daryl Williams left after an internal investigation led to his demotion. In that investigation, we learned Williams never investigated 41 percent of his rape or child abuse cases. One of his 123 victims asked us why he wasn't fired. Chief Rhodes acknowledged a delay in how the case was handled, and said changes were made in the department.
Within the past month, Rhodes disciplined two more detectives, both on the same day. Records obtained by WMBF News show Rhodes fired Lucas Green and suspended Tim Troxell. Both disciplinary records shared the same incident date from two years ago.
Due to redactions by Horry County in the police records, it is unclear why Troxell was suspended. He's since resigned from the position.
Police records show Green was terminated for not writing up a report after using a choke hold, and knocking out the tooth of a suspect during an undercover prostitution operation from two years ago.
In the letter of termination, Rhodes said Green's actions were in violation of department policies.