Horry County councilman on deal with ex-police chief: ‘This just doesn’t make sense’

LORIS, SC (WBTW) – Horry County councilman Paul Prince tells News13 he was never told about a payment that allowed the county’s ex-police chief to retire early. He said he found out about it from News13.

Saundra Rhodes retired on May 6, 19 months before she was eligible for retirement.

Documents released on Monday revealed that Horry County paid out more than $61,145.37 to the South Carolina Retirement Systems to allow Rhodes to retire early with full benefits.

“We never went into executive session to talk about any type of contractual arrangement or pay off arrangements,” Prince said. “I never was told anything other than she’s retiring.”

Four other councilmen told News13 on Monday they didn’t know about the early retirement deal.

“I just don’t see how decisions can be made like this without the full council knowing and even the full council voting on it,” said Prince.

County leaders have refused to explain who made the deal for Rhodes’ early retirement and why it was made.

County Council chairman Mark Lazarus refused to comment. County administrator Chris Eldridge hasn’t returned our message. County spokesperson Lisa Bourcier refused to comment, calling the situation a “personnel matter.” The chairman of the public safety committee, which oversees the police department, also refused to comment.

Prince told News13 he doesn’t think the deal is a personnel matter; he said it’s a taxpayer matter.

“I don’t want anybody spending my money or my tax payers money whenever I’m in charge of making decisions. I’m elected to help make decisions like this.”

Rhodes became police chief in 2012 after working as sergeant, lieutenant, and captain.

She announced her retirement abruptly in April, but she hasn’t explained why she retired.

News13 previously confirmed SLED is investigating former and current officers with the Horry County Police Department.

The department also faces lawsuits from two women who claim the detectives responsible for investigating their rape cases did not investigate thoroughly enough.

In addition, more than 100 cases originally investigated by Detective Allen Large have been reviewed and several cases have been reopened following Large’s termination from the department on allegations of sexual harassment.

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