Proposal to expand surveillance in Horry County, share intelligence between law enforcement agencies

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WBTW) - Local public safety officials are working to centralize communication to cut down on crime county-wide.

The Horry County Sheriff's Office is researching a fusion hub that would allow multiple law agencies to share intelligence.

Right now the project is unfunded, but News13 got a better idea Wednesday of how exactly it would work.

Chief Deputy Tom Fox first introduced the idea earlier this year under his five-prong public safety plan to reduce crime in Horry and Georgetown counties.

The center would be similar to what the state uses in Columbia—so picture a giant hub where footage and digital data flow between different departments.

"Ours will be on a much smaller scale," Fox said. "But what it'll do is give us real-time data to fight crimes throughout the county."

Right now, Fox said different agencies have different ways of collecting and storing information, and this can make it difficult to share that info with other departments.

A centralized hub would allow for both smoother collection and distribution of info, and Fox said this would help catch criminals who leave the area.

For example, if someone commits a crime in Surfside and flees to Loris, those agencies would both have immediate access to any surveillance footage or license plate info.

"Not all the criminals are born and raised in Myrtle Beach," Fox said. "Most of our incidents we have people travel from outside the county or outside the jurisdiction. So this will give us the ability to trap them throughout the county."

We asked Fox what system his department currently uses to share intelligence. "We don't really have one," he replied. "What we have to do now is basically pick up the phone and call the other jurisdictions."

Myrtle Beach Police Chief Amy Prock agreed collaboration is key to keeping you safer.

"Crime is not just specific to one jurisdiction," she said. "So it's really important for all of our agencies to work together."

The hub would give each agency access to others' license plate readers and surveillance footage, like the 800 cameras Myrtle Beach added earlier this year. Fox said he also wants to add more cameras and readers throughout Horry County under the project.

"It wouldn't be all-over," he furthered. "It'd be at significant intersections that are traveled by most people."

Earlier this fall, News13 asked Chief Prock her thoughts on such a hub. "It would be great to be able to have an asset like that," she said. "An expensive asset, but it would be great to have that asset."

On Wednesday, Fox met with the county's IT department to talk about how to make the technology a reality. Right now the project is unfunded, but his department should have a more definite idea by the public safety committee's January meeting.

He is exploring different grants as a way to pay for the project and says he does not anticipate the project falling on taxpayers.

 

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