Rhodes finalist for Georgia job

Rhodes finalist for Georgia job

HORRY COUNTY,  SC (WMBF) - It was nearly three months ago that Saundra Rhodes retired as chief of police for the Horry County Police Department, but now she is seeking employment in the state of Georgia.

Robert Cheshire, deputy city manager for the city of Statesboro, Ga., said Rhodes is one of three finalists selected for the city's chief of police opening.

"The three finalists are Herbert Blake, Saundra Rhodes and Charles Sikes," Cheshire said, adding he could not give specifics about the details of the hiring process.

Frank Rotondo, executive director for the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, said he and his staff assisted the city in selecting the finalists for the position.

Rotondo said there were more two dozen applications he examined.

"We look at credentials, evaluate resumes and look for certain training and former education," he said.

Rotondo added Rhodes' experience and training made her qualified for the position.

"I felt she was a really viable candidate," Rotondo said.

Rotondo said when he conducted an online search on Rhodes, he found several reports pertaining to the lawsuits filed against her, the HCPD and a former detective.

"I saw nothing terribly bad," he said.

The lawsuits allege Allen Large, a former Horry County police detective, engaged in unwanted sexual advances and sexually assaulted victims of cases he investigated. Another allegation is that management officials, including Rhodes, knew of this misconduct and did not take appropriate action against him.

However, Rotondo said as far as he is concerned, lawsuits do not hinder a person from being hired if they are qualified for the job.

"Lawsuits happen every single day," he said. "Having a lawsuit does not disqualify them for the job. That's why we have courts and judges, to let them decide."

He added that, with the size of the HCPD, there is often a screening between the chief of police and the detective division.

Rotondo said Statesboro officials asked his organization to help with the hiring process for their department. A numerical score system was used to evaluate the candidates, with that score determining who will be the top selected.

Cheshire said the three finalists will meet with Department Heads and other city staff on Aug. 9, interview with a second panel and then attend a meet and greet with the public.

"We don't have a set date for choosing the chief of police, but I would anticipate that it would be within a week or two of the meetings on Aug. 9," he said.

It was in May that Rhodes announced her retirement from the HCPD. The county paid more than $60,000 into the state's retirement system so that she could receive full retirement status and benefits.

WMBF News checked with the South Carolina Retirement Plan System to find out if Rhodes would still qualify to receive benefits if she decided to become a full-time employee.

There are no restrictions for pursuing another job outside of the state or with an organization not covered by one of the South Carolina Retirement Plan Systems.

WMBF reached out to Rhodes for comment, but did not receive a response.

Her attorney said he could not comment on the matter, but said any law enforcement agency would be lucky to have Rhodes, saying she is a good administrator and a highly qualified officer.

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