CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Horry County leaders say incoming chief, Joe Hill, will make about $20,000 more in his first year than former Horry County Police Chief Saundra Rhodes did when she left the department.
County leaders say the new chief’s salary is in line with what other department heads, like the Myrtle Beach Police Chief and the North Myrtle Beach Public Safety Director.
A few weeks ago, News 13 told you that comparable salary is what the Fraternal Order of Police was pushing for in the Horry County Police Department for officers throughout the chain of command.
It’s a department facing lawsuits and SLED investigations, but to the Fraternal Order of Police, that’s not the biggest problem.
With a shortage of officers, John Brantly with the FOP says the low pay, benefits, and morale makes the department a revolving door.
“We don’t think that the correct answer is we’re hiring more, we’re hiring more, we’re hiring more. At some point, we have to stop the flood,” said Brantly.
Tuesday, Horry County spokesperson Lisa Bourcier said they hired a new police chief after former chief Rhodes abruptly left the department.
“He knows what he’s getting himself into, and I think he’s ready to take care of business,” said Bourcier.
Bourcier says the new chief will make $130,000. That’s comparable to the Myrtle Beach Police Chief who makes more than $143,000 or the North Myrtle Beach Public Safety Director who makes just over $134,000.
“Horry County is recognizing what we’ve been screaming all along that an attractive pay in benefits package or comparable pay in benefits package in those surrounding departments not only brings in those experienced officers, such as chief hill, but will help start to fix the problem of retaining those experienced officers that the county has invested so much time and money into,” said Brantly.
With that increased pay for leadership, Brantly says officers are left wondering if that will flow down to the rest of the workforce in the department.
News13 took that question to newly hired Chief Joe Hill.
“I agree with the FOP, and I’m going to work hard to see if we can come to an agreement because here’s the challenge, if one agency is paying more than another and the other agency has the same thing to offer, you’re going to lose officers, and I cannot afford to lose officers. I’m already facing a 22 vacancies challenge stepping into it and maybe more as I get down there next month. So, in order to recruit talent, and we’re talking about excellence in policing, you’re going to have to pay for that,” said Hill.
But, because it deals with the budget, he’ll have to work with county leaders like Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus.
“We’ve been doing everything we can within our budgetary restraints to increase our salaries and become more competitive with the other areas. I’m sure that our new chief will come in with another plan, and we’ll certainly be receptive to that as we go through our next budgeting process,” said Lazarus.
Hill says he’s ready to bring new ideas to the table.
“That’s a challenge that I’m up for and that’s a challenge that I’m going to take all the zeal that I possibly can muster for the officers in Horry County that we’re going to be fairly compensated for the job that we’re going to do because we are going to do an excellent job,” said Hill.
Hill says he looks forward to working with county leaders and the FOP to move the department forward.
He says he plans to lead with three main goals – creating accountability, transparency, and community engagement.