Horry County to expand video conferencing in courts

The Horry County Council approved municipal and magistrate judges the use of video conferencing in courtrooms.
The Horry County Council approved municipal and magistrate judges the use of video conferencing in courtrooms.
Only 30 days in and the Horry County Sheriff's office says that it's already saved around $11,000 of taxpayer money.
Only 30 days in and the Horry County Sheriff's office says that it's already saved around $11,000 of taxpayer money.

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) The Horry County Council approved municipal and magistrate judges the use of video conferencing in courtrooms. Now all municipalities have the opportunity to use video conferencing in courts.

The City of North Myrtle Beach has been doing this for the past month. The Horry County Sheriff's office says this initiative will help taxpayers. Instead of having uniformed officers transporting arrestees back and forth between the county jail and their municipality, they can actually be out on patrol. This will not only help make streets safer, but it also helps with keeping the inmate in a secure location as the officer no longer must transport the arrestee.

Normally the process takes a couple of hours to transport arrestees back and forth from the municipality to the detention center, but now it's only a matter of minutes.

"It makes it basically fool proof from our end of it," said North Myrtle Beach Chief Municipal Judge Blake Martin. "And I think from the standpoint of security and from the standpoint of savings it's a win-win for everybody that's involved."

In addition, the initiative saves money since less taxpayer funding will have to be spent for gas that's used to transport the arrestees back and forth. Now that this resolution has been passed, the county can explore these new possibilities in other cities.

"We'll be able to move forward," said Benjamin Wells, the Technical Support Specialist with the Horry County Sheriff Office. "We'll have to work things out with the municipalities, funding, and how these different things are going to be bought and how it's going to be maintained."

The City of North Myrtle Beach has been using video conferencing in courts for over a month after receiving permission from the supreme court to use the tool, and then spent $7,000 to purchase the equipment needed to do it.

Only 30 days in and the Horry County Sheriff's office says that it's already saved around $11,000 of taxpayer money. It's also saved at least 80 extra hours of a uniformed officer's time.

Copyright 2011 WMBF News. All Rights Reserved.