HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Dozens of police officers in the Grand Strand will need re-certification to carry weapons.
The South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy made changes to Class 3 certifications in April that will take effect July 1.
“What prompted these changes is that we learned there were a lot of agencies who were using their people not properly. They were actually having people do things they were not trained to do and certainly not certified to do,” SCCJA Director Jackie Swindler said. He said this was happening statewide.
Class 3 officers will now be divided into advanced and basic certifications.
Officers with basic certifications will not be allowed to carry a weapon, make arrests, or write tickets. Advanced certification allows officers to carry a weapon and make arrests with limitations.
Officers working for advanced placement will be required to complete more than 180 hours of training. After training they must pass a written and physical test through the police academy.
The North Myrtle Beach Public Safety Department will be impacted the most in the Grand Strand. Right now nearly 50 cross-trained firefighters have Class 3 officer certifications.
Chief Tommy Dennis says all 49 firefighters will take the advanced training. Dennis says training will happen on the job and by using overtime hours.
“We’re in the process of getting that started, but we’re waiting on getting the full curriculum from the academy which should be out close to July and then we’ll work through it from there,” Dennis said.
The Myrtle Beach Police Department says it has six Class 3 officers. When asked if any officers would take advance training, the department declined to comment.
Officials with Horry County police say their department has nine Class 3 officers. They say the department is working to determine which officers will take advance training and will know in upcoming weeks.
Horry County police say the training will mainly impact the department’s animal control unit.
“The short term is that we may be a little understaffed while we go through this transition, but the benefit to the citizens of Horry County and the department as a whole is that better trained officers. Better trained officers always has better results,” HCPD Captain Justin Wyatt said.
Wyatt said the officers will train on the job and by using overtime hours.