MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The Myrtle Beach Police Department unveiled a plan to increase its number of officers over the next seven years.
Police Chief Amy Prock presented the plan at Tuesday’s Myrtle Beach City Council meeting. It calls for the addition of 70 new officers over that seven-year time span.
Some council members said they would actually like to see that number increased.
Prock said the department has been working on the plan for the last three months. One of the factors has been the rise in tourism along the Grand Strand.
According to statistics released from the city, nearly 18 million people visit Myrtle Beach annually, compared to an average of 13 million just seven years ago.
The annual cost to add 70 new officers is expected to be around $5.8 million.
In a statement released after the city council meeting, Brad Dean, president and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, said they are “encouraged by the bold vision and strategic law enforcement plan.”
“Safety is paramount to the quality of life and to tourism in Myrtle Beach,” Dean said. “The Chamber is in full support of the plan, and we are willing to re-direct advertising dollars to help put more police on the streets. The tourism tax funds are highly regulated, but we are willing to do what it takes to provide support to the police force.”
Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes said the council will seek state funding and grants to help cover the cost of additional equipment.
He is hopeful the addition of new officers will give the city a chance to better control the crime in the area.
“You will never, ever stop crime. It is the second oldest profession in this world,” Rhodes said. “We are going to do all we can to control it.”
The plan is designed to hire 10 officers each year. However, becoming an officer is an extensive process.
According to MBPD officials, only 14 out of 116 applicants were hired during a recent hiring event.
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