Horry County Police Chief works toward state, national accreditation for department

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Roughly 30 police department in South Carolina are nationally accredited, and even fewer are accredited with the state. Horry County Police is not on the list.

Horry County Police Chief Joseph Hill says part of his goal in leading the police department is to gain that accreditation. He says that achievement will help put transparency back into the department, especially given recent events that landed a number of former officers and detectives in court indicted on charges of misconduct in office.

"It's kind of a badge of honor for the public to see," explains Chief Hill.

Chief Hill says the department is reviewing all internal policies and procedures as they work on gaining state accreditation.

"Part of that state certification is to make sure that our policies are in line with best practices across the nation and the state," identifies Chief Hill. "Once that happens, we'll have an inspection team come out, and I'm expecting to get that done within the next six months."

Right now, only 13 departments in South Carolina are state accredited, but Chief Hill says he doesn't plan to stop there. He says the state accreditation process is a launching pad to become nationally accredited with an organization called the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA).

"CALEA is going to take longer," admits Chief Hill. "CALEA is more expensive, it's a lot more expensive. So, I have to make sure that my leadership is supportive of that extra money to spend on that, and I'll make that argument."

Chief Hill says CALEA will cost close to $10,000, but the organization will send teams of inspectors to talk with the public, officers, and review department policies.

Horry County Police Professional Standards Inspector John Harris is over the project and says it adds an extra layer of transparency that's long overdue.

"We are going over every policy and procedure, general order and sop to make sure they are in line with what the state and the national accreditation requires, and a majority of them are," identifies Harris.

In a department still 11 officers short, Chief hill says adding the accreditation won't immediately increase officer pay, but it will help them gain attention for additional grant money.

"When they're looking at placing money in agencies, they're looking to see if the agency is well rounded, an incredible agency, which Horry County absolutely is, but that certificate if you will, proves it," explains Chief Hill.

The Conway Police Department, Florence Police Department, and Georgetown County Sheriff's Office are the only agencies in the Grand Strand and Pee Dee region to be state accredited.

So far, no department within the region is nationally accredited with CALEA.

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