An officer from the Horry County Police Department will rejoin a regional task force that is cracking down on the growing use of heroin and opioids by getting drug dealers off the streets.
The county has participated in the 15th Judicial Circuit Drug Enforcement Unit since it was created in 2006, but withdrew last year because of a staffing shortage.
Horry County Police Chief Joe Hill asked county councilmen on Monday to support restaffing efforts, reporting that the current vacancy within the county department stands at zero for patrol officers and two for the detective bureau.
The drug enforcement unit is part of the county police department’s crime reduction plan and operates at a higher level to remove the networks supplying drugs in Horry and Georgetown counties, Hill said.
Horry County would provide one officer as well as additional support through its SWAT team and forensic lab, Hill said.
The council’s Public Safety Committee forwarded a resolution approving the effort to the full council for approval, after panel Chairman Al Allen questioned how seized assets would be split among agencies.
Hill said that will depend on the number of officers from each agency participating in the task force, which includes police departments from Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Surfside Beach, Coastal Carolina, Conway, Aynor, Georgetown, the Horry County and Georgetown County sheriff offices, and the solicitor’s office.
“The money is not significant, and honestly, from a crime-fighting strategy, the money’s not a big concern to me,” Hill said. “I’m more interested in the amount of resources we can put on the street to fight this particular issue.”
Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said his office is entitled to some of the seized assets, but would rather that money stay with the program.
“We’ve never taken a dime out of it,” Richardson said.
“I want the county to be successful in their endeavors to help people who are addicted to opioids and other drugs, and stop all of the drug traffickers and give them a lot of jail time,” Richardson said. “But the little bit of money that comes in with it, I’d rather them just split it up and be successful.”
The resolution to rejoin the task force could come up for a full council vote as early as December.