By Paul Gable
Horry County’s Community Violence Subcommittee is scheduled to meet again next week, hopefully to move forward on a plan to address crime problems in neighborhoods.
For its first four months of existence, the subcommittee has been stuck on compiling statistics comparing Horry County to counties in neighboring states.
I suppose that’s an approach. In the meantime, Horry County is experiencing approximately 20 deaths per month from heroin overdoses, according to local media reports, and violent crimes are on the rise.
All of the violence in our local communities can’t be tied directly to an increasing heroin epidemic that officials are beginning to acknowledge exists in Horry County. Poverty and lack of opportunities to rise above it play their parts also.
Interestingly, the Myrtle Beach Police Department is hosting a forum called “Facing the Heroin Epidemic Head On” at the Recreation Center on the former Air Force Base Tuesday August 16th beginning at 6:30 p.m.
When local community activists went before Myrtle Beach City Council nearly six months ago asking for help in combating community violence, Mayor John Rhodes blamed the activists for the problems and said crime was decreasing in Myrtle Beach.
The activists were also told they were ‘hurting tourism’ by focusing on community violence problems.
A raging heroin epidemic will hurt tourism a lot more. Maybe that’s why the Myrtle Beach forum will address the problem next week.
While local governments have begun to address the community violence problem, at least acknowledging it exists, a local group of pastors has been holding meetings in various communities around the county. This seems to be the most intelligent approach. It does seem logical to learn about community violence problems from those most affected by them.
The pastors’ group will, reportedly, issue a report on the findings from the community meetings and include recommendations for attacking the identified problems in late September.
The pastors’ report will be issued around the same time the county’s Community Violence Subcommittee is scheduled to issue a progress report to the Horry County Public Safety Committee.
Maybe, with these two reports in hand, local government agencies can begin to combat the heroin and violence problems that affect our citizens every day and forget about how tourism is affected for a change.