Amy Prock was sworn in as the new chief of Myrtle Beach police on Monday afternoon, pledging to listen to the community as she guided the department in her new role.
“I need a phone call to my officers who are working. I don't need after the fact. I need to know when it happens,” Prock said during an address to members of local law enforcement and the public who had gathered for the swearing in ceremony. She added that the department was also soliciting feedback — good and bad.
“I own my mistakes,” Prock said.
Prock enters the position at a high-profile time for Myrtle Beach law enforcement. She took the position immediately before Memorial Day weekend, which is often a busy time for police as bikers come to town for Atlantic Beach Bikefest. The holiday weekend saw no shootings in Myrtle Beach this year, but the city did see a string of six shootings in three days around Father’s Day — one of which sent six to the hospital and has been viewed millions of times in a Facebook video.
But Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes praised Prock Monday for her hand in preparing for Memorial Day weekend, calling her the “champion” of the multi-year effort to tamp down on a weekend that also has brought high-profile violence to the city.
“She definitely was the right choice,” Rhodes said. The city manager, who hires the police chief, did not mount a search for a new chief when former Chief Warren Gall stepped down from the role in late May.
City Councilman Wayne Gray also praised Prock’s forward-looking attitude and said the fact that the city had sworn in its first female chief was “a big deal.”
“It’s just the passion that she brings to this job,” Gray said.
‘Not living in the rear view’
Prock said the department needed to look ahead at what it could do to reorganize and make officers’ jobs easier, improve retention and listen to the public.
“We’re not living in the rear view, we’re focused on the windshield,” she said to the gathered crowd, which included her four children and husband, Matt Prock.
She said the department would work to “better implement retention,” a line which received considerable applause from the officers in the room.
“We want to definitely work on strategies to make sure we’re keeping our people,” Prock told The Sun News after the ceremony.
That means looking at increasing pay for officers, she said. City Manager John Pedersen said earlier that afternoon that he would work with the new chief to re-examine pay levels for officers.
“We want to do pay studies as well as working on what other programs we can to [make] it equitable for keeping people here,” she said.
Prock said that a study on how many officers are needed to serve the population — which continues to expand — would be included in retention discussions.
Police also will have meetings with the public in the future, Prock said, in addition to the city’s existing neighborhood watch program, which hosts monthly meetings that take on issues specific to smaller neighborhoods.
“This, overall, is something that I want to do to make sure that on a broader base, we’re hearing everything,” Prock said.