How did Myrtle Beach area agencies use COVID-19 police grants? Some won’t say

Grand Strand

FILE

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Grand Strand and Pee Dee governments used funds from a criminal justice COVID-19 grant to purchase protective equipment for law enforcement officers, buy a new car and acquire a decontamination unit. 

About $850 million was available for government agencies nationwide last year as part of the Bureau of Justice Assistance Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program. The parameters of what the funds could be used for are fairly vague, according to information found in the grant’s program description, but had to be used by governmental units in “preventing, preparing for, and responding to the coronavirus.”

Expenses were not limited to purchases for “criminal justice activities,” and could also be used to fund items such as salaries, hazard pay, and death benefits. 

“Allowable purchases projects and purchases include, but are not limited to, overtime, equipment (including law enforcement and medical personal protective equipment), hiring, supplies (such as gloves, masks, sanitizer), training, travel expenses (particularly related to the distribution of resources to the most impacted areas), and addressing the medical needs of inmates in state, local, and tribal prisons, jails, and detention centers,” according to grant information. 

Data on which agencies received grant funds, and how much, is available in an online federal database. However, in most cases, it does not mention what the agency requested the money for. 

News13 reached out to every agency within its six-county coverage area in South Carolina that received the grant to ask what it spent the funds on. A little less than half did not respond. 

Here is how much local agencies received, and what they said they spent it on:

Conway – $34,984

The city spent its funds on personal protective equipment for officers and staff. Supplies included masks, gloves and sanitizer for every vehicle.


Darlington County – $60,576

The county used the money on gloves, masks and sanitizer, stating that it focused on “the most widely used products purchased in the early stages of COVID.”

Dillon – $34,175

The city said that it used $33,726 to purchase a patrol car for the police department. 

Dillon County – $39,601

The county did not respond to a request asking what the funds were spent on.

Florence – $100,825

A spokesperson for the city did not respond to a request asking what the funds were spent on.

Florence County – $82,360

The funds were used to purchase eye protection, N95 face masks and half-face respirators for deputies. The money also went toward purchasing a room decontamination unit for the detention center booking areas and for other rooms or vehicles that might have come into contact with bodily fluid. Cleaning fluid, disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer were also bought.

Horry County – $227,483

Kelly Moore, a spokesperson for the county, said the grant helped purchase technology for the radio communications department that allows the county to program encryption over the air instead of having to work on individual radios. It also helped pay for police electronic message boards to inform visitors of the county’s COVID-19 restrictions.

Marlboro County – $32,880

The county did not respond to a request asking what the funds were spent on.

Myrtle Beach – $227,483

A spokesperson for the city did not respond to a request asking what the funds were spent on. 

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