Myrtle Beach police are working to fill officer vacancies as a sluggish central police academy leaves new hires waiting months for trainings.
Police Chief Warren Gall said the department is in a better position than this time last year. Only three positions for sworn officers remain open, but because recent hires are still in the training pipeline, the department lacks more than 20 officers to patrol the streets.
Newly hired officers undergo pre-training with their agency, schooling at the state police academy and then a field training back home that can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
Gall said eight officers are in the S.C. Justice Academy, the state’s 12-week training for law enforcement. After they graduate in February and complete field training, they’re expected to hit the streets in May.
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However, an additional 11 new hires who just began won’t begin SCJA training until the end of May.
“The delay getting to the academy now, at least for our group, is about four months,” Gall said. “It benefits us to have some time between the hiring and the academy date, but four months is quite excessive.”
Other jurisdictions, such as North Myrtle Beach and Horry County, have expressed a desire for additional academies to train new officers.
Gall said the academy also faces issues as many drop out of law enforcement jobs relatively quickly.
“Most of it has to do with funding, but it also has to do with the number of trainees that they’re being asked to train because of the turnover in law enforcement in our state and our country,” he said.