By Paul Gable
With the indictment of four former Horry County Police Department officers last week by the state grand jury, the morass of problems within that agency became a little more public.
The four officers were indicted for various forms of misconduct in office, which included sexual harassment in two cases and plain dereliction of duty in two others.
According to public records, these officers were previously disciplined for some of these actions but allowed to remain in the employ of the department. Those same actions have now been deemed criminal in nature.
In other words, HCPD officers were allowed to break the law and keep their jobs until the state grand jury became involved.
This is not just a problem with four officers. It is a systemic problem that is pervasive throughout the department, in my opinion. Officers are allowed to do, or not do, what they wish while the system protects them.
I have covered incidents going back nearly two decades where officers exhibited the same or similar types of conduct including false arrest, lying under oath and coverup of actions with no negative ramifications for the officers involved.
Particularly in Horry County, these types of actions are kept out of sight of the general public whenever possible. When they do come to light, the officers involved are referred to as a “few bad apples.”
Yet, it seems every year or two we are told our police officers are underpaid and taxes must be raised to provide them with more income.
How about requiring them to do their jobs?
A new police chief took over the reins of the department this week. He has a massive job in front of him cleaning out the systemic problems that plague the department.
At the same time, we have a heroin epidemic raging throughout the county and violent crime on the rise.
Hopefully this new leadership will require officers to ‘protect and serve’ first, making our communities safer along the way.
After all, that is their job.