HORRY COUNTY, SC (WBTW) - Horry County works on a plan to get officers more money, but some council members say the county needs to work on getting more officers.
Day one of council's annual retreat saw the unveiling of a new plan to give law enforcement a dollar per hour pay increase. But no formal plan was put in place to add more law enforcement officers.
As the county prepares for the start of the new fiscal year, council members will focus on police retention rather than recruitment. "We need to fill the vacancies that we've got right now," Chairman Mark Lazarus said.
But that did not come without debate during the budget retreat. Councilman Harold Worley said that the county is digging itself into a deeper hole if it does not get more protection for its people. Worley agreed the new plan to pay officers more will be a good thing for morale but said the plan stops too short.
"Crime is just so rampant that we have to do more," he said
Worley wants to see 100 officers on the street in a year. "It is a lot, but if you divide it by three shifts and add vacation time off really you're only talking about 30 police officers."
He said it takes too long for officers to reach some people in his district. "What do I tell my constituents out there in Little River, Brooksville and Longs," he questioned. "What do I tell them about their response times?"
Councilman Al Allen said there is a difference between living in the city versus in the unincorporated county. "That's why folks has always moved into a municipality knowing that they're going to pay a higher tax rate, but they're going to get more service," Allen said to the rest of council.
But Worley was not alone in his concerns. "I think we're kind of short on what we need to police a community the size of Horry County with the growth that we're having," Councilman Dennis DiSabato said.
DiSabato wants 35 to 40 officers to staff a new precinct, but he thinks council could wait to do that. "Once we're able to cure our retention problem, then we can look at adding new positions."
Lazarus told News13 Thursday that he would be open to revisiting the idea of increasing the size of the Horry County Police force next fiscal year.
For now the county works to include the officer pay raises in its upcoming budget. That plan would go into effect October 1.