CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Last month we spoke with the Horry County Police Department about ways they plan to hold officers more accountable.
Those questions came after the department had to reopen investigations and was faced with several lawsuits from alleged rape victims claiming negligence in the department.
For months, Horry County Police and council leaders have tried to find ways to move past problems in the department.
“We’ve got to change the institutional problems that we’ve had,” said council member Johnny Vaught after last month’s public safety meeting.
While SLED continues to investigate several officers, lawsuits have been filed claiming negligence, failure to properly investigate sexual assault cases, and that a former detective sexually assaulted multiple women while he was assigned to their case.
On top of that, an internal investigation claims former Sergeant Luke Green used force, failed to fill out a report or make an arrest, later looked through a list of suspects, picked out the guy who looked most like the one he let go, and sent in a report.
Later, he found out he listed the wrong man.
“(It’s) pretty much common knowledge that we’ve had some issues with our case management, but we’re working really hard to correct that, and we believe we’re on the right track,” said Lt. Raul Denis with the Horry County Police Department.
At last month’s public safety meeting, Horry County Police said they were launching a new software program that would help with accountability throughout the chain of command.
Now, they say they are no longer using that software. Instead, they said they are using a program they already had in the department.
“At that time, Captain Freer was in charge of that program, in charge of that section of criminal investigation. Since then, he has been transferred to another assignment and a new captain took over criminal investigations,” said Denis.
Denis says the section supervisor can chose how to supervise his or her unit, and the new supervisor chose to use an existing Motorola software to help with oversight in the department.
“You’re still going to have the tracking and the supervisor checks and all of that in the new system without actually having to go out and completely implement a new system,” said Denis.
Denis says because the county already had the program, it won’t cost any additional money.
The system will track cases, case assignments, and reviews. It will also send officers and supervisors notifications to let them know what needs to be done.
“A lot of this stuff was being done manually and pen and paper kind of phased out. It was very labor intensive and it takes a lot of time and effort. With the amount of work we’re producing, it’s just not conducive to keep doing it that way,” said Denis.
Lt. Denis says the program is still a work in progress, but they started using the software to generate reports and to assign cases last week.
The department also hired a new internal affairs officer that will start next week, two new victims advocate leaders, and increased ethics training for officers.