By Paul Gable
With the city elections just over one week away, the issue of the Myrtle Beach Police Department and crime statistics came up in a recent candidate forum.
This is no surprise as the MBPD and crime are raised in every city campaign, then, promptly forgotten about until the next campaign.
The incumbents gave the same time worn excuses we always hear for the number of violent crimes that occur each year in Myrtle Beach – “It’s the tourists”. I’ve recently heard a slant on that one – “It’s the homeless”.
Some tourists do come down here and commit serious crimes. I really don’t think we have any Al Capone wannabes among the homeless.
But, it doesn’t matter who is committing serious violent crime in the city. It’s being committed.
And, it’s being committed unevenly throughout the city with the north/south divide coming into play. That’s one problem that the incumbents deny and nobody really wants to get into.
The second problem that nobody is discussing is the retire-rehire program that is pervasive among the senior ranks in the police department and the city staff in general for that matter.
Retire-rehire allows the top staff members to double dip public money, drawing their full retirement pay while signing contracts for salaries above what they were paid before retirement.
It’s also a morale killer because there is no upward movement among the ranks because the senior members never retire and go away. In addition, this senior staff requires rigid conformance to its rules, some of which do not appear in the personnel manual.
Responsibility for retire-rehire falls directly on the shoulders of the incumbent council members because they are the ones that approve the program and the contracts for the retirees on active duty.
Until the status quo on city council is broken, nothing will change. The crime statistics will continue to be what they are with considerably more crime in the south end of the city than the north end and ‘Same Old, Same Old’ being the anthem of Myrtle Beach.