Elected officials, police hold 'private' meeting about Horry County SROs

Elected officials, police hold 'private' meeting about Horry County SROs

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A meeting to discuss the future of funding police officers in your child's schools was held last week. But not everyone involved in the decision was invited. The meeting was held Friday at a local business owned by county Councilman Al Allen and included some members of the School Board, county staff, and Horry County Police.

Holly Heniford is the Horry County school board member for the North Myrtle Beach area, and was one of just a few board members invited to discuss the recent budget issues regarding school resource officers.

"I'm not saying some people couldn't say it was a secret meeting. It wasn't my meeting. I was invited. I didn't ask who was going to be there," said Heniford. "Coffee and donuts. it was very relaxed. I was not aware that there would be as many county staff there."

Elected officials are not required to inform the public before a meeting as long as it doesn't meet certain criteria. Horry County School Board member Joe Defeo says he was not told about the meeting until after it was over.

"Councilman Al Allen called me yesterday and arranged for a meeting with me this morning just to update me on some of the ideas that were discussed, but since it's still in contract negotiations, it's not something that I can talk about publicly," said Defeo.

County council recently asked the school board to pay for 90 percent of the SRO salaries, which is traditionally split 50-50.

"I would personally like to see the agreement remain the same at least through this coming year," said Defeo.

"What came of the meeting which I thought was very good was in order to look at cost, you need to break down cost, and so that was a conclusion of the conversation," said Heniford

Heniford says whatever the parties eventually agree to, she believes police officers need to be in the schools. "We need them there. The pro-active behaviors that they have, it really stops a lot of situations that could escalate into unhealthy," said Heniford.

WMBF reached out to Police Chief Joe Hill, and Councilman Al Allen, who both attended the meeting, but have not received a call back.

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