Horry County police leaders talk new precinct, public safety at Carolina Forest Civic Association

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 5:26 AM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - The Horry County Police Department will be expanding its operation in Carolina Forest over the next few years by adding a new precinct.

Department leaders talked about what the new precinct will mean for public safety with Carolina Forest residents at the Carolina Forest Civic Association meeting Wednesday night.

Right now, Carolina Forest is considered a part of the North Precinct, which covers everywhere from Highway 501 to the state border. Because it is such a large area, having that new precinct will help keep people safer.

“Total calls for the North Precinct: 21,821,” said HCPD North Precinct Cpt. Tina Vaught. “Total calls for Carolina Forest: 8,441.”

Vaught said more than a third of the North Precinct’s calls for service this year have been in Carolina Forest. To handle all those calls, a full shift for that area of the precinct at any one time is eight officers.

But sometimes, even having that many officers working is a challenge.

“During COVID and everything else, we have lost people,” said Vaught. “In saying that, I just want you to know, that is not a problem because we are getting our people.”

The department will be recruiting a lot more officers during the next few years to fill the new East Precinct.

HCPD Chief Joseph Hill says that precinct could be up and running in the next two to three years.

“We’re looking at about 41 to 45 personnel being assigned to that facility, so we have to recruit for that right now,” said Hill.

The department will have a little time to do that recruiting. Hill says several government offices will be up and running in the building before the precinct is opened.

That new precinct will be a part of the Central Coast Complex, which the Horry County Council assigned $25 million in bonds to fund at a meeting last week.

It will be built on Hinson Drive behind McLeod Health on International Drive, which the chief thinks will be a great location for getting around Carolina Forest.

“That gives us a lot of opportunity to hit [Highway] 31 if we need to get somewhere quickly, of course International Drive, Carolina Forest Boulevard,” said Hill.

Hill is excited the facility will have set backs, safety posts and everything to make the building safe and secure for his officers. He is also looking forward to the role it will play in building relationships with the people in Carolina Forest.

“It’ll also be a place for you to go to file police reports, have community meetings and meet your neighborhood officers,” said Hill.

Hill says the department currently has 27 vacancies due in large part to more positions being added to this year’s budget.

Therefore, having those spots to fill may put a little extra pressure on having the 40 to 45 positions at the new precinct filled in time for the opening.

Needless to say, the department is taking applications.

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