MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The mayor of Myrtle Beach says he’s turning to legislators to try to get more money to pay police officers and hire new officers in the department.
Mayor John Rhodes says during the summer months, the city has close to 400,000 people.
He says they need to stock their police department for those numbers to keep people safe, and because most of them are tourists, he’s asking for state tourism dollars to make it happen.
Monday, as new police chief Amy Prock was sworn into the Myrtle Beach Police Department, she stressed the need for more police officers and to find ways to keep the ones they have.
“Our urgent need such as a pay study initiation and a retention evaluation will be initiated,” said Prock.
Right now, the mayor says the department is staffed for the city’s population, but being a tourist destination, they need more.
“We have to let the public know and especially our legislators and say ‘hey, we’re not that little sleepy town of 30k people on a daily basis’. Every day, we’re about a 125,000 to 150,000 population when you look at the people that are staying in hotels and people coming here to visit. Then, as we go into the season, we grow up to 350,000 to 450,000 people,” says Mayor Rhodes.
Rhodes says he plans to go to legislators in January with those numbers to see if the city can get 10% of TDF funds, or money paid by tourists who purchase things in the city, to go towards law enforcement.
“That is the main objective, and talking to our delegation, they feel confident that we may be able to do this, and we’ve got the backing from the chamber of commerce with Brad Dean. He wants to see this done also,” said Rhodes.
Rhodes says officers in the department need more money, and safety will only come with more boots on the ground.
“We’ve got to be able to take care of our residents, the safety of them, take care of our business community, and the safety of our tourists and the only way to do that is to have more police officers, and we’re trying our best to get that,” said Rhodes.
He says they’re also working on recruiting efforts to bring more officers to the department.
Right now, he says they have officers talking to students at Horry Georgetown Technical College and local high schools to ask them to join the department.