I was glad to read that the Town Council in Surfside Beach voted to eliminate the position of director of public safety. Surfside Beach acted quickly and decisively in separating the police and fire departments once the decision was made to do so. A simple resolution of the council accomplished this goal.
In comparison, the North Myrtle Beach City Council pays lip service to the idea of separating the police and fire departments. They have done little or nothing to implement this plan. As far as I know, they are still hiring public safety officers, not police officers. They still plan on hiring a new director of public safety. The city would be better served to hire a police chief and eliminate the director position. The money saved would go a long way to help defray the cost of separating the departments.
Some councilmen have said they don't have the authority to order the separation of the two departments. When the public safety concept was implemented in 1983, all it took was a resolution of the council and a direction to the city manager to implement the program. I remember going to a meeting where we went as a separate department and left that meeting as a public safety department. Once implemented, the details were worked out. It did not take months or years but a matter of minutes
If the North Myrtle Beach City Council were serious about separating the police and fire departments, it could do it tomorrow. I believe that they are procrastinating, hoping the topic will go away. I sincerely hope the residents of the city do not let that happen.
The writer, a retired fire chief of the North Myrtle Beach Fire Department, lives in Little River.