Time for Horry County Sheriff Referendum

By Paul Gable

It is time for the citizens of Horry County to answer a referendum question ‘should all county law enforcement responsibility be turned back to the Horry County Sheriff?’

Unfortunately, this is something that Horry County Council must approve and, if information from a number of sources is accurate, the political will to approve a referendum vote is not a majority view of county council members at present.

Horry County Council members must answer the question, ‘are county citizens better off with the current system, which gives most law enforcement responsibilities to the Horry County Police Department?’

Considering SLED has several ongoing criminal investigations into the HCPD, especially the detective division, as well as several lawsuits already filed against HCPD with more expected to come, the obvious conclusion is a resounding NO!

Much to my surprise Sheriff Phillip Thompson said several days ago that he believed it is time to put the question of whether to recombine the HCPD with the Horry County Sheriff’s Department to the citizens of Horry County.

Thompson said he has received hundreds of calls from county residents over the last several weeks saying it was time for the sheriff’s department to run law enforcement activities within the county.

There are pros and cons to having the departments combined.

At this time, I believe the pros of having the sheriff take over the HCPD far outweigh the cons.

The sheriff is an elected official, directly answerable to the public. With HCPD under Horry County Council, through the administrator, there are too many levels of bureaucracy.

With the current situation, of a citizen has a problem with HCPD he or she inevitably calls his council member, who calls the administrator, who calls the police chief, who calls the captain of the area the complaint is about, who calls the officers involved.

With all those levels of bureaucracy to pass through, the problem often isn’t addressed and may never be solved.

With the sheriff, the citizen would call the sheriff who would directly meet with the deputies involved.

And Phillip Thompson puts service to the people first. He has a standing policy in his office that each deputy must return all phone calls received on the day they are received.

With all the ongoing problems and complaints about HCPD, it is time to put the referendum question to the voters of Horry County of whether the Sheriff’s Department and HCPD should be combined with the sheriff as the top law enforcement officer in the county.

For county council to do any less is for county council to ignore HCPD problems and ignore the rights of the citizens of Horry County.





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