Horry County police could get a pay raise to make them more competitive with Myrtle Beach police, who get a starting salary of $44,000 per year, said county council Chair Mark Lazarus.
The proposal will give Horry County police a $1 per hour pay increase for Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3 officers.
On top of that, officers, like all other county employees, are getting an average 3 percent merit-based raise, resulting in an almost 10 percent raise for all officers this year.
Right now certified officers earn a starting pay of $38,584 including base pay and holiday pay. But after the raise, base pay for certified officers would be $42,137, according to county spokesperson Kelly Moore.
But no additional officers are being added, and not everyone is happy with that.
"That defies logic to me," said councilor Harold Worley. "All these people we have moving in and we’re not going to increase cops? What about those folks out there who are looking for protection? That’s our number one job, those people out there. And the response time out there is ridiculous and we need to take a look at this."
Police Chief Joe Hill said that response times for priority 1 calls such as robberies and homicides averaged eight minutes, compared to the national average of six minutes
Worley said the county should concentrate on more officers to increase response times.
"I want you to know you have my support to do whatever we need to do to hire more cops," he said. "I’m talking about beat cops out there on the street, rolling in the ditches."
But Lazarus said more officers would be on the streets if the county could retain officers by paying them more, adding that the police deals with between 20 and 30 vacancies every year out of it's 257 employees. Those vacancies represent budgeted officer positions that aren't filled, he said.
"What we need to do and what’s been expressed by administration, by the chief and by others, we need to get our pay grades up," Lazarus said. "We can’t even fill the positions that we have. Why add more if we can’t fill what we have?"
Christian Boschult, 843-626-0218, @TSN_Christian