By Paul Gable
A recent lawsuit filed against the Horry County Police Department and individual officers highlights the systemic problems within the department.
While there have been more sensational headlines of sexual harassment of victims by HCPD detectives and a general breakdown within the entire detective division, this lawsuit demonstrates the attitude that is at the heart of the problems in the department.
The case is Brian E. Little v. Horry County Police Department et al. Case number 2016CP2604670.
In the pleadings, Little, the plaintiff, claims he had a building and a recreational vehicle vandalized by neighborhood juveniles.
In filing a report about the damage to HCPD officers, Little provided the officers with photographs from a security system on his property.
According to the pleadings:
HCPD officers did nothing.
Little, then, approached the mother of one of the juveniles and obtained a signed statement from the juvenile admitting to the damage, which he provided to police.
Again, nothing was done by HCPD.
Approximately two months later, Little’s property was vandalized again and, again, HCPD did what it does best – nothing.
Ultimately, Little began passing out circulars in his area about the vandalism to assist a neighborhood watch program. While he was passing out the circulars, little was approached by HCPD officers telling him he can’t pass out his circulars. Little complained to the officers that HCPD was doing nothing and, ultimately, they arrested Little for harassment.
The charges against Little were dismissed in court and Little brought his lawsuit against HCPD and the officers involved for assault and battery, false imprisonment, abuse of process and malicious prosecution.
This is not the first time we have heard of HCPD officers falsely arresting citizens or retaliating against citizens who make complaints about officers’ actions.
Over at least the last two decades, HCPD has become a department with no real oversight whose officers are allowed to do pretty much what they want with the understanding that the system would protect them.
Horry County Council had the opportunity to take steps to radically change the way HCPD operates by allowing citizens to vote in a referendum to combine HCPD and the Horry County Sheriff’s Department.
Council chose not to and is looking for a new police chief to replace the recently departed Saundra Rhodes.
There is a lot wrong with HCPD and the actions of its officers that will not be fixed with a new chief. There are systemic problems that should be addressed.
Council has chosen to, effectively, ignore addressing these deeper problems. Hopefully, the citizens will not have to continue to pay for council’s inaction.