Horry Police Chief paid extra $60,000 to retire early

Horry County Police Chief Saundra Rhodes stepped down from her position in April.
Horry County Police Chief Saundra Rhodes stepped down from her position in April. cslate@thesunnews.com

Former Horry County Police Chief Saundra Rhodes did not have enough years of service to retire last week but the county agreed to pay more than $60,000 into the South Carolina Retirement System to make up for the shortfall.

That’s according to information released Monday by the county under a Freedom of Information Act request filed by The Sun News requesting copies of any severance package or separation agreement, as well as the former chief’s “retirement notification” letter submitted April 25.

Rhodes was one year and seven months short of being able to collect state retirement benefits, which requires 25 years of service.

By paying $60,000 into the retirement system on Rhodes’ behalf, the county paved the way for her to collect retirement benefits. Rhodes salary was more than $110,000 a year. Her last day on the job was Friday.

Rhodes’ announcement that she wished to retire and pursue other employment opportunities coincided with an investigation by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) of individuals within the department, and a lawsuit alleging that a detective sexually assaulted a rape victim.

The department is also the target of a second lawsuit filed April 15 that accuses an unnamed officer of concluding that another rape case was unfounded. No arrest was made until March, three years after the crime was committed. That arrest resulted from the review of cases handled after the lawsuit accusing a detective of raping a victim was filed in December.

Rhodes worked for the Horry County Police Department since 1993 in several ranks from sergeant to lieutenant to captain, and began her career as an undercover narcotics agent. She was appointed to the chief position in 2012, replacing Johnny Morgan who was named chief in 2004.

Audrey Hudson: 843-444-1765, @AudreyHudson