HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Horry County's new chief of police is planning to bring change as he starts his tenure as the county's top officer.
Chief Joseph Hill, a 28-year member of the Fairfax Police Department in Virginia, was at the Horry County Council meeting Tuesday night, his second day on the job.
Hill spoke with WMBF News about what his plans are for the department.
"You know what? I'm the man for the job," Hill said. "I can make positive change."
Hill replaced former chief Saundra Rhodes, who retired from the HCPD on May 6, 2016 amid several investigations into employees and former employees with the department.
Hill said one of his first concerns is combating the heroin epidemic happening right here inside Horry County.
"You can't arrest your way out of a situation like this. This is indeed an epidemic and is affecting all demographics in the county," he said. "We need to identify sources, we need to start seizing property, we need to start identifying these dealers, we need to start making convictions on these dealers. But we really need help from the federal government."
HCPD has made recent headlines with allegations of sexual misconduct linked to former Horry County detectives and accusations of wrong doing by higher-ups, like former Chief Saundra Rhodes, also mentioned in lawsuits. Hill said he is well aware of what he signed up for and plans to set things right.
He also plans to appoint a new public information officer, someone who releases information about crimes in the count, and communicates with the media. He said this PIO will be an outside hire and not someone inside the department.
"For the day-to-day activities, a civilian PIO is very important," he said. "They know the local news media, they know PIO, they know how to write. You can kind of take the cop mentality out of it. And they're very successful."
Hill said he considers himself a no-nonsense cop and has been for most of his life. He plans to apply that same philosophy to his new job.
"We've got great officers here. My job is to be their biggest advocate, sometimes their biggest critic," Hill said. "But for the most part, I'm going to be a cheerleader for this department."