CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson is officially sworn in for his next term as Horry County Sheriff, and his plans include continuing to build on what he's started, and also to do more.
"I'm really excited and I'm appreciative," Sheriff Thompson said.
He wants to expand the SOAR program, which began this year as the second program of its kind in the state, locking teenagers up for a night to show them where they could end up if they don't change their behavior.
"You're breaking them down and then building them back kind of like the military," he said.
A third SOAR night is set for this Friday and Sheriff Thompson said he hopes to do one for teenage girls soon.
"You see when they come in initially and when they leave there's a difference," he said. "There's a positive difference. In attitude, in facial expressions. You can just tell."
He's also working to keep mental health patients out of jail through a specific mental health court, which began a year and a half ago.
"By having sanctions and the judge having them do certain things to stay out of the jail and take your medication, get a job, working with your family, different things of this nature, we go by and we check and we see how they're doing as time progresses, it's working," he said.
He said mental health court hasn't reached the same level of success as drug court, but he'll keep pushing for it to grow and succeed.
As for drugs in the community, the sheriff's office is working with other law enforcement agencies in the area to create a uniform protocol for heroin.
"We're working together. We're talking. We're meeting. We're looking at options at what we're going to do and how we're going to handle this," Sheriff Thompson said.
Sheriff Thompson is also working cooperatively with Horry County Police Department Chief Joseph Hill, months after discussions of consolidation of the two offices.
"The decision's been made," he said. "The new chief has been hired. I'm going to tell you I've been very impressed by Chief Hill. I think he's doing a great job. He has a wonderful work ethic and attitude."
The sheriff swore in 15 corrections officers for J. Reuben Long Detention Center Wednesday, which is important to help with a staffing shortage the jail has been experiencing.
He said staff members will sometimes work at the detention center for a couple of years to start their careers then go to other law enforcement departments.
No matter how many openings there are at one time, the jail has to have a certain number of staff members on every shift, so that puts a burden on the current employees.
"Our folks are great but after a while they want some time, but keeping it staffed, keeping it full to prevent a mandatory overtime situation is something we work and strive very hard to do," he said.
The 15 people who were sworn in Wednesday just finished a 6 week training program and they will start working Friday. He said more are set to go to the academy as well.