By Paul Gable
Recent changes in state law have made as much as an additional $5 million in accommodations tax money available for law enforcement in the Myrtle Beach area for the month of May.
This money is specifically targeted at providing additional police officers from around the state, and possibly from out of state, to handle crowds during the Atlantic Beach Bikefest over Memorial Day weekend.
Obviously there was insufficient law enforcement in Myrtle Beach during this past Memorial Day weekend when crowds got out of control in the south end of the city.
But, more and better policing is needed in Myrtle Beach throughout the year.
The recent city council budget discussions included a request for money to fund 30 additional police officer positions. The final city budget provided an additional $1 million for law enforcement, enough to fund the training, outfitting and pay for 10 additional officers.
Reportedly five of those officers will be specifically destined for policing in the Market Common area. This is not an area that experiences high levels of crime measured against other areas of the city.
The question must be asked – Why provide an additional $5 million for law enforcement just in the month of May and only an additional $1 million for the rest of the year?
Because the murders and other lawlessness over Memorial Day weekend got national media attention and went viral on social media, giving the Myrtle Beach area a big black eye.
When our legislative delegation moved quickly to change state law, it should have done a little more thinking and less ‘knee jerk’ reaction. The change in state law should have allowed more accommodations tax money to be used for year around policing, not just the month of May, if the legislative delegation really wanted to help the local area.
It seems the solutions discussed so far to solving law enforcement problems in Myrtle Beach are all about image and nothing about the larger problem of rising crime in the city.
But, I’m probably just being negative. After all, the television still tells me “It’s Working.”