CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – The city’s police chief says his department is almost completely staffed for the first time since he’s been there.
Conway swore in and welcomed the newest members of its police force Friday. They include five full-time, class one officers, two full-time, class three officers, and a part-time officer.
Many of them came right from the state criminal justice academy in Columbia.
“We were very fortunate that, out of this group that just graduated the academy today, we were able to get five outstanding candidates that we were able to hire,” said Chief Dale Long.
Like Horry County, its cities and towns, the Conway Police Department has been trying to attract more officers. It’s also hoping to retain the ones who work in “Rivertown.”
Chief Long says the department is at its best staffing level since he began working for the city a decade ago.
“We have three vacancies and we’re in the process,” he said. “We actually have applications in hand. We’ve already started the preliminaries with some of the testing that they go through.”
Some of those tests include background checks, completing a special obstacle course in a specific time and a mental evaluation. Chief Long says while Conway police officers aren’t the highest paid in the county, the pay is competitive.
He also says the job can be less stressful than working along the coast.
“There’s a lot more things that happen when you start getting into that strictly tourist economy, the hustle, the bustle, the overwhelming numbers of people,” Chief Long said.
Like other parts of the county, Conway is expected to continue growing and more officers will be needed.
“We have to keep pace,” said Chief Long. “We can’t just wake up one morning and say, ‘Wow! Our city just doubled overnight and our police department didn’t keep pace.'”
Chief Long also says the department will focus on fixing the pay scale for officers in next year’s budget.
City council will discuss its goals for the budget at a workshop on Wednesday.