CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – One day after Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus said he wants to see people put in jail for 72 hours after they overdose on Heroin, News13 spoke with the New Horry County Police Chief Joseph Hill to ask his plans to fight the epidemic.
Hill says he agrees with Lazarus that people who overdose should be held accountable, but that they must first figure out what they can do legally.
“I support him because I know from the heart, he cares about his community greatly, as they all do on the council. We just have to get there legally, I mean, how do we do that? The Sheriff is on board, you know, if that’s not the answer, we’ll look for additional answers or something else, but we’re not going to give up, this fight to this community is just too important,” said Hill.
The Horry County Sheriff’s Office says the way the law is written now would not allow them to arrest someone just because of an overdose. That decision would have to come from state lawmakers.
“You know, we’re going to do our due diligence to make sure that we’re not violating any laws, and you know, if we need to shape up our county policies or county regulations, then that’s something the county will look at. Everyone on the council to a person is concerned about this epidemic, and we’re just trying to figure out ways of how we can break the cycle,” said Hill.
Hill says he’s already looking at ways to break that cycle with a plan he used in Fairfax County, Virginia. There, he says they brought in Psychologists and counselors to help addicts seek treatment instead of an arrest.
“We gave them that option. Not everybody took that option, but some did. If we can get one or two to break that cycle, then that’s a success story,” said Hill.
It’s part of a three-prong approach he plans to use to fight the epidemic, going after the offender, arresting the dealer, and most importantly, getting users help.
“Intervention’s going to be the key. I think Mr. Lazarus was right on point yesterday when he was looking at alternative strategies and not only are we going to arrest them because they are committing, you know, an offense, but also getting them some help so that we can break this chain of addiction,” said Hill.
Hill says he also plans to use community policing as a big part of his fight against Heroin. Tuesday, he met with people in the Racepath community of Myrtle Beach to hear their concerns. He says it’s one of many community visits he has planned in the coming months.