Horry County sheriff, police merger won't make ballot for genera - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Horry County sheriff, police merger won't make ballot for general election

Talk has centered around the possible merger of Horry County's police and sheriff departments. (Source: WMBF News) Talk has centered around the possible merger of Horry County's police and sheriff departments. (Source: WMBF News)
Talk has centered around the possible merger of Horry County's police and sheriff departments. (Source: WMBF News) Talk has centered around the possible merger of Horry County's police and sheriff departments. (Source: WMBF News)

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Horry County is currently the only county left in South Carolina that has both a police department and a sheriff's office.

However, at an Horry County Public Safety Committee meeting last month, one county council member brought up the idea of merging both departments.

As it turns out, there is not enough time to get an ordinance approved and on the ballot for the residents to vote on before November's general election. 

Last month, it was Paul Prince who asked the county attorney to look into what needs to be done to make the merger happen. 

Horry County Sheriff Philip Thompson said the current system has worked for 60 years, but he believed merging the two law enforcement entities would also work.

"Let's consolidate the two resources into one, and I think it would be more effective and more efficient," Thompson said. 

At Monday's public safety committee meeting in Conway, Horry County Attorney, Arrigo Carotti stated in order for a consolidation to happen, it would call for a three-reading ordinance to become a referendum. 

Carotti said the question or ordinance for the ballot would have to be submitted to the Horry County Election Commission by Aug. 15, to get on the general election ballot. 

"There is not enough time to do that," Thompson said. 

Currently, there is only one regular county council meeting scheduled before Aug. 15. Still, Prince believed it could be done. 

"I think county council should vote it up or down at our next meeting and if it votes down that’s it," Prince said during the meeting.

County council would have to have two special meetings in order to get a three-reading ordinance before the deadline.

Carotti told committee members under Robert's Rules a special meeting can be called to address important matter that need urgent or immediate attention. 

Councilman Johnny Vaught, said, in his opinion, he did not believe the issue would qualify for a special meeting. 

Thompson said he receives emails, texts, phone calls and personal visits from people saying they would like to see the change happen. 

He thinks it is a decision that should be made by the citizens of Horry County.

"There is no guarantee either way it will go, but I think the citizens should have a voice in it," Thompson said. 

Thompson added both departments already work together and he said that will not change.

He said, in the end, he wants what is best for the county, law enforcement and the safety of citizens.

"Sheriff’s office versus police, police versus sheriff's office, this is not that," Thompson said. "This is just talk about what’s better, which system is better. I believe in the sheriff’s system, I believe in the citizens having the opportunity to elect. They believe in appointing. Nobody is mad at each other."

Copyright 2016 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

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