Horry County police is putting 11 more officers to work patrolling the streets after Horry County and Horry County Schools could not reach an agreement over which should pay for school resource officers.
The officers formerly patrolled the schools during the school year but after the school district voted for private security, the SRO service is no longer needed.
Horry County police spokeswoman Krystal Dotson said two SROs were promoted to the detective unit and one resigned.
Horry County police Chief Joe Hill said no officers were terminated.
With the reassignment of the SROs, there are now 83 patrol officers filling 84 patrol positions, said Hill. That number doesn’t include corporals or sergeants, who also answer calls.
“We were able to fill every vacancy in patrol as a result of the SROs coming back to us,” said Hill, who added that incoming police academy graduates would allow the department to be fully staffed at between 267 and 270 sworn officers by the end of the year barring terminations and resignations.
“We look better now than we have in a number of months as far as vacancies,” he said.
Four of the SROs were reassigned to the north precinct, which includes Carolina Forest.
Previously there were two officers patrolling Carolina Forest but there are now three, said precinct commander Capt. Bob Carr.
He said he hopes to have an additional officer patrolling the area in the next few weeks to bring the total to four.
The Carolina Forest area had an estimated 2016 population of 25,500 people, according to documents provided by Horry County Planning and Zoning Deputy Director David Schwerd.
“We were short a grand total of five people and we were able to fill four of those positions as a result of the SROs coming here,” Carr said of the north precinct. “We have another position we have to fill also. In the big picture, we filled four vacancies right now, which is kind of the most important thing all around.”
The north precinct has an average 911 call response time of more than 12 minutes, according to Horry County police. Carolina Forest has a response time of more than 11 minutes.
Other Horry County precincts have response times ranging between 10 and 15 minutes.
Myrtle Beach police has a response time of less than six minutes, according to Myrtle Beach police Lt. Joey Crosby.
In Berkeley County, which is similar in size to Horry County but with a smaller population, the Sheriff’s office has a response time of less than seven minutes, according to Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Mike Cochran.
Carr said the additional officers will help decrease the response time, although he doesn’t know by how much.
Carolina Forest Civic Association President Carol vanSickler said the reassignment was a step in the right direction.
“That’s great news. We really need more police presence patrolling Carolina Forest,” she said. “We consider that a positive step because Carolina Forest needs more police coverage based on the population density and the layout of the HOAs.”