NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — In an effort to advance community policing across the country, the U.S. Department of Justice will award the North Myrtle Beach Police Department $750,000.
The funding will be used to hire six new officers which will make a total of 86 officers in North Myrtle Beach. Chief Tommy Dennis said Monday, this is the first time in about five years the department has hired officers.
As the city continues to grow, Dennis says the department needs all the help it can get. “It’s only going to continue to get bigger with more developments coming and we’re trying to keep up with to make sure that have enough officers to keep everyone safe,” he said.
The investigative unit will benefit the most from the federal grant.
“Something we haven’t done in a long time and that’s to increase our number of detectives in the detective division and then, of course, increase the backbone of our department which is our uniform patrol,” he said.
Nick Fusee, resident and business owner from Baltimore, Maryland, said opening his taproom in North Myrtle Beach was the safest option.
“We have certainly seen news of increased crime in the Myrtle area. And we were looking around up here and we loved the North Myrtle Beach – the main street area. So it was perfect for us,” Fusee said.
This effort comes as some departments struggle to keep officers on duty. The criminal justice technology program at Florence-Darlington Technical College is now offering a police pre-academy training certificate where potential officers can receive credits.
An effort it hopes will increase community presence. “It’s critical for police to be able to come into the community meet the people, the store owners, and build a relationship. I think that certainly helps overall,” Fusee said.
Chief Dennis said the grant will only help fund police salaries. Equipment that costs around $15,000 per officer will need to be included in the city’s budget.
No word on when the funding will be issued to the department at this time.