HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — The Horry County Police Department is working to add two narcotic detectives to get ahead of the opioid crisis in Horry County.

HCPD is asking county council to approve a $466,000 grant that would allow the department to hire two narcotic detectives who will focus on opioid deaths.

“These two detectives would be primarily focused on the investigation and the folks involved in their death — meaning the dealers,” Horry County Police Chief Joseph Hill said.

Adding the two detectives would help lessen the strain opioid overdoses has put on local hospitals and law enforcement.

HCPD says the rise in opioid deaths has strained its criminal investigative division because the cases are so time-consuming and often require close contact with multiple agencies and interviews.

In 2020, Horry County ranked No. 1 in the state of South Carolina for prescription drug overdose deaths, opioid overdose deaths and the overall number of drug overdose deaths. It also ranked No. 1 for the number of Naloxone administrations by EMS. Th drug is used to reverse an overdose.

“It’s getting to be a regular occurrence that we do see, unfortunately. One’s too many,” said Paul Richardson, the chief medical officer for Conway Medical Center. “And so, we do see that quite frequently. Many of these, obviously, are accidental overdoses, you know… people may not realize [what they’re doing].”

The grant was approved at a recent public safety meeting and will make its way to county council for a first reading. The next county council meeting is on Feb. 21.