We have been busy at the police department as we move into 2020. Chief Hoffman has recently returned from an 11-week training at the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. The training focused on leadership, organizational change, officer wellness and vitality, and media relations. He is looking forward to continuing the hard work of advancing the Surfside Beach Police Department into the new decade and grateful that the town allowed him to attend this professional development training to help him be the most effective police chief for the town.
The department is also appreciative that town council and our town administrator have been supportive of recruiting and retention efforts. The department has procured and outfitted four new patrol vehicles, giving enough vehicles to issue each sworn officer an assigned police vehicle. If the officer lives in or close enough to the town, they will be able to drive their assigned vehicle home. This is a powerful recruiting and retention tool that also benefits the town. Research shows that officers take better care of an assigned vehicle. This results in an increased useable life of the vehicle, lowered maintenance costs, and lower fuel costs.
The town closed the municipal jail over six months ago and began transporting persons arrested in town directly to the Horry County Detention Center or the Myrtle Beach Police Department. This organizational change is a one-year pilot program to see how the closure affects public safety, liability for the town, and cost of operating a jail. Due to South Carolina Department of Corrections requirements, continued operation of the jail would have required the hiring of nine additional full-time personnel and increased costs estimated at over $600,000.00 per year. Municipal jails present tremendous liabilities to municipalities such as Surfside Beach. The test has been overwhelmingly successful, using two full-time transportation officers to the detention center during peak hours, leaving officers on the streets to continue patrolling.
The Community Alert Program (CAP) continues to grow as town residents sign up. This program allows elderly or special needs residents to be checked on periodically by communications officers. If contact cannot be made with a resident or their emergency contact, a police officer is dispatched to the residence to check on them. This program also allows special needs residents to advise how to best respond to an address if an emergency arises. For example, some of residents may be startled by the sound of a siren or loud talking. Our police officers care deeply about residents’ individual needs, and this program helps them respond with this vital information.
Additionally, the department is preparing for the upcoming spring and Memorial Day bike rallies, and are in the early stages of planning for the upcoming beach season.
Chief Hoffman and his team look forward to seeing residents and business owners at the “Coffee with a Cop” event to be announced in the near future. Additionally, we are preparing the materials for a new and improved Citizens Police Academy in the spring. Stay tuned.