Conway considers changes to keep and recruit police officers

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – The Conway Police Department is looking at how to address staffing challenges in the upcoming year.

Conway Police Chief Reggie Gosnell met with Conway City Council Monday night to explain some of his ideas to help with recruitment and retention.

“We’re trying to identify good applicants, and right now, the pools are just not really as robust as they have been in years past,” said Gosnell. “One of the things we’re looking at is how we can streamline the process so we can get more money in the officers’ pockets.”

One idea is to add $2,500 to all Class One officers’ salaries and another is to give a $1,500 signing bonus for all new certified officers. The bonus would be split up in the following way: $500 at signing, $500 at completion of probation and $500 at completion of one year’s service.

“I think at the end of the day, that’s what most people are looking for,” said Gosnell about increases in pay.

Some other suggestions are to reduce the current time in grade for senior police officers from two years to 18 months and to reduce current time in grade for a senior master police officer from four years to three years, provided all training requirements have been met.

In the past year, other agencies in Horry County have worked to fix similar staffing issues.

“I lost a guy to a construction job,” Horry County Police Chief Joseph Hill told News13 a few months ago. “He’s going to hang drywall making more than he can protecting the citizens of Horry County.”

Gosnell admitted times are changing for law enforcement.

“There’s just so few people interested in law enforcement now,” he added. “Years ago, you either wanted to be a fireman, baseball player, or policeman. We don’t see that interest right now that’s really needed to make a substantial impact in the community and be a sustainable force.”

Because of this, Gosnell said the department is trying to get kids interested in the department. They’ll be doing an “Explorer” program with seventh and eighth graders on Dec. 16.