CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW)- Horry County Police Chief Saundra Rhodes announced she would retire from the department back in April.
Her last day was May 6th and since then there have been a lot of questions about the future of the Horry County Police Department.
Mark Waites briefly served as Interim Police Chief before leaving for that same job in Georgetown County. Lance Winburn is now Interim Chief until a permanent chief is hired.
Shortly after Rhodes’ retirement, discussions started with the public safety committee about consolidating the Police Department with the Sheriff’s Office. However, that would require a referendum to be presented to voters and that won’t happen before November.
With consolidation talks tabled for now, Horry County leaders move forward with the search for a replacement. The job was posted on the Horry County jobs website but has since been closed.
County spokesperson Lisa Bourcier says they received 45 applicants for the Police Chief position.
“A good selection of individuals that applied for it and pretty much throughout the United States and mostly along the east coast that we’ve had but very good applicants and we’re excited about the process,” Bourcier said.
That process will include a first round of phone interviews. From there, a next round will include in-person interview for applicants who make it that far.
“We’re going to do this process similar to how we did the Fire Chief process. We do have a selection committee that’s made up of internal and external people to assist with looking through the applications, interview process and kind of giving feedback to the administrator,” Bourcier said.
In the last few months, two alleged rape victims have filed lawsuits against the Horry County Police Department. County leaders recently hired someone who will help with Internal Affairs and review department procedures.
Don Causey is a former Commander with the South Carolina Highway Patrol. He will take over that position with the police department August 1.
“He definitely has the knowledge and the background to assist us with that. Kind of looking at what we currently have and any improvements that we need to make.”
All improvements that county leaders hope will move the department in the right direction.
“We’ve been able to do some promotions and still kind of figuring out where certain people fit best within the department. And definitely looking for a strong leader within this new Police Chief. So we’re excited about the department and looking for a good candidate to take this position and kind of move the department forward.”
Bourcier adds they hope to have a finalist named in the next few weeks.