October 4, 2013

Horry County to consider gifting service weapons to law enforcement retirees

Hemets for firefighters being considered as well

Like a law enforcement family bidding a happy retirement to an officer who had reached retirement age, members of the Horry County Sheriff’s Office and Horry County Police would chip in and buy the service revolver for their departing brother or sister.

Horry County council members want to change that.

“Police, fire, sheriff’s, EMS, their lives are constantly on the line,” said Councilman Brent Schulz. “I personally don’t feel like they should be purchased by these guys.”

That’s why the county is looking at purchasing the service weapons for those who have served more than 20 years with Horry County as a token of the county’s appreciation. But it doesn’t stop there. The county is also looking at honoring firefighters with their helmets at retirement if they meet the same 20-year requirement.

Currently, Horry County has a resolution on the books that declares the service weapons as surplus property. Officers would raise as much money as they could to afford the retiring officer’s $468 weapon. If enough wasn’t raised, the retiring officer had the chance to come up with the rest of the cost to keep his or her weapon.

Locally, it’s a mixed bag for what municipalities do for retiring officers. In Myrtle Beach, a collection is taken among staff. In North Myrtle Beach, the city gives the officer the weapon in a custom-made presentation case. In Conway, it does not give or sell the weapon to its officers.

Last year, six weapons were declared surplus and paid for by the officers to give retirees.

Paul Whitten, assistant administrator for public safety, said, on average, the county has between three and eight people retire from law enforcement.

“Based on that, giving weapons to these officers, at most, it would be less than $4,000 in costs to the county,” Whitten said. “Law enforcement officers do a unique job for us and for our community and it’s one of the few professions that requires a bullet-proof vest and a firearm that they bring to work every day.”

The measure is expected to be brought before the full County Council.

Also to be considered is the donation of helmets to long-time firefighters who have given their careers to Horry County. Fred Crosby, fire chief for Horry County, said helmets make most sense to give to firefighters.

“We attach an importance to [helmets] the way an officer attaches emotion to the service weapon,” Crosby said. “The other thing is, in the long run, it would be a wash for us because if we have it long enough, we have to dispose of it because turn up gear is only good for eight years.”

Funds from casinos may be used for parking

County Council will consider using $205,000 from boarding fees it collects from casinos in Little River to provide much-needed parking off Mineola Avenue.

The county is looking to buy a currently undeveloped 28,000-square-foot property near the intersection of Mineola and Watson avenues. It would be used to create a 60- to 80-slot gravel parking area. An ordinance where the county profits from casino boardings calls for the county to use that money for capital improvement plans in the Little River area.

The council will consider the purchase at its next meeting Oct. 15.

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