Horry County Police Department makes plans to improve in 2017

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – For the Horry County Police Department, 2016 was far from quiet.

With lawsuits against the agency and indictments of former officers, Chief Joe Hill says the department needed change.

“That put a negative spotlight on the entire agency and then of course, here comes Joe Hill, here comes a revamp of the investigations division and a revamp of the entire agency,” said Hill.

Hill says he spent the last few months working to better the environment for employees, build relationships with the community, and improve accountability standards.

“Going back to accountability piece, we have some additional vacancies because of actions of individual officers recently and that is holding people accountable for their actions, and when they’re not qualified to wear the badge, we’re going to cut them loose and we’ve done that,” said Hill.

Looking ahead to 2017, Hill wants to reduce the number of domestic violence cases, bring on new domestic violence detectives, and better investigate cases in general.

“We have a few cold cases that’s on the radar that we’re going to be bringing in some additional help, giving it a fresh look so we can close that and give closure to the family,” said Hill.

On top of that, he says they’re working with other departments on the Grand Strand to battle the Heroin Epidemic by implementing a better response protocol.

“It’s a three prong approach. You’ve got law enforcement, you’ve got prevention, and then you’ve got the rehabilitation that has to go along to break that cycle. So, although it’s a lot of work ahead of us and there’s no quick fixes, we are sitting at the table talking about options,” said Hill.

Hill says their top goal for the new year is to work on community relations so the department can win back your trust.

“Not everything is going to be perfect in the Horry County Police Department. We will be transparent when we make those mistakes, but all in all, 2017 it’s going to be a lot of work ahead of us,” said Hill.

When Hill first took the position, he said one of his top goals was to increase officers’ pay.

He says he’s still not where he’d like to be with that, but it’s still something he’s working to improve.