HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Former Horry County Police Chief is one of three finalists selected for the Statesboro, GA Chief of Police opening.
Through a Freedom if Information Act request, WMBF News has obtained details about each of the candidates in the running for the position.
Herbert Blake is currently the Police Chief in Hendersonville, NC, a city of 13,663 people, with a full-time staff of 53 and a budget of $4.3 million, according to his resume. From 2001 to 2007, he was the Loris, SC Police Chief, and has also served as a Lieutenant in the Jasper County Sheriff's Office in SC, a patrol officer in Ridgeland, SC, and a reserve deputy sheriff in Jasper County.
Charles Sikes is currently a board member on the Georgia Board of Public Safety, which is responsible for the oversight of, and policy formation of, the Department of Public Safety, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and the Georgia Public Safety Training Center, according to his resume. He previously worked as the Clerk of the Superior, State and Juvenile Court in Bulloch County Georgia, and as a Law Enforcement Professional assigned to the Afghanistan Capture Material Exploitation Lab for Military Professional Resources Inc.
In her resume, Rhodes explains that she has been Chief of Police for Horry County from September 2012 to May 2016, exercising executive command of 294 police, airport police and beach patrol officers and civilian personnel. Among her accomplishments listed are:
- Implemented an aggressive recruiting program in an effort to diversify the Department
- Realigned traditional precinct lines and sector boundaries to establish more equitable call distribution in an effort to allow officers more time to follow up on calls and to engage the community
- Initiated the State accreditation process for the Department
- Managed the deployment of body cameras for Horry County Public Safety
- Initiated a County wide gang task force with ATF
- Re-established the victim’s advocate program by aggressively seeking grant funding
- Maintain departmental budgets totaling over $25,000,000.00
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."
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.