Solicitor Richardson responds to HCPD Chief Rhodes' retirement

Solicitor Richardson responds to HCPD Chief Rhodes' retirement

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Solicitor Jimmy Richardson admitted he was surprised by Horry County Police Chief Saundra Rhodes' retirement announcement.

The cases the Horry County Police Department investigate often cross Richardson's desk. He'll joins detectives and officers on the scene of a murder in the middle of the night.

Yet he learned for the first time on Saturday that Rhodes was handing in her badge.

"I still think the world of Chief Rhodes," Richardson said. "I think she did an awful lot for our area. I think our area owes her a debt of gratitude. I think everybody that's ever met her thought an awful lot of her and she really did work hard and try to do what was right each and every day."

Rhodes' retirement announcement comes after serious allegations surfaced against two Horry County detectives and two other police officers serving under her.

They include lawsuits levied against the department by alleged victims claiming sexual harassment, detectives closing child abuse cases too early and a failure to report alleged excessive force used in the line of duty.

Richardson said he was aware the State Law Enforcement Division has several open investigations into the HCPD.

"I don't know exactly what they are going to come up with, or when, or if," he said.

Right now, Richardson doesn't know if these investigations sparked Rhodes' decision to retire. He said he believes her statement saying she's voluntarily choosing to leave.

What he does know is until the details are released, the rest of the department is taking the heat.

"I know that the vast majority of them are trying to do what's right, and they are targeted by the same sort of shadow also," Richardson said.

The solicitor has spent countless nights on scene of the worst crimes. He has seen how hard Horry County police officers and detectives work, often responding to a murder case and then immediately getting called out to a rape case or a call about a suicide.

"I think they've got a tremendous nucleus of people who are dedicated and want to do what's right," Richardson said.

He did mention these allegations will affect the way cases are prosecuted if these given detectives or officers are going to serve as witnesses. In that case, Richardson would have to inform the defense of the allegations as well.

"We have to prosecute and we have to do the very best of what we've got, regardless of those outside circumstances," he said. "We don't get to pick which police officers make which arrests. They do that, and then we have to work within the confines of the law."

As for the SLED investigations, there is no word yet on when details will be released.

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