Horry County police to begin closing checkpoints as residents return home

SOCASTEE, S.C. (WBTW)- Nearly three weeks after Hurricane Matthew hit the area, Horry County Police say they will need to close the security checkpoints established.

The Horry County Police Department, Sheriff’s Office and other agencies have manned the checkpoints to ensure no looting happened as residents evacuated.

There are more than 14 security checkpoints set-up along the Waccamaw River and Intracoastal Waterway. HCPD says it staffs 28 officers each day to provide around the clock security.

“So although it’s a strain on our resources, we understand the importance of us being in these communities and we’ll do the best we can to maintain that presence. But moving forward we know the community is going to get back on track in short period of time. These are very resilient people,” Chief Joe Hill said.

This week, the waters went down enough for people who live in Rosewood to return home and see the damage to their home. Many say they were thankful police had a presence during the time they were away.

“I was concerned a little bit but once the water got up us high as it did, I knew there was nothing left to loot. There’s nothing left,” Brian Brown said.

Brown spent Wednesday going through his home and saving what he could. He says he is fortunate because he has insurance that will help but it will be a long recovery process to get everyone which is why he would like officers to remain at the checkpoints.

“I really wish they would stay until the community was able to get more on its feet. I know its resources that’s being taken away from other places but it’s resources that we need right now so that nobody steals what possessions we do have left,” Brown said.

Chief Hill says his department will evaluate each checkpoint over the next two weeks and begin to close them on a case-by-case basis after they can look at conditions and how many residents return. He told News13 the checkpoints closing don’t mean there won’t be an officer present.

“You might not see an officer at the front of your street but believe me, we’ll be nearby. For anyone that wants to commit crimes in that neighborhood we’ll be watching and will not tolerate that.”

Chief Hill says there we no reported burglaries during Hurricane Matthew. Once the static checkpoints are closed, an assigned officer will patrol certain areas to ensure there are no issues.