By Paul Gable
The Horry County Community Violence Subcommittee is scheduled to make an interim report to the Horry County Public Safety Committee Monday on its initial findings regarding violent crimes and drug crimes in our local communities.
Seven months ago, community activists Bennie Swans, Jon Bonsignor and Tim McCray approached Myrtle Beach City Council for help in addressing violence in the community.
They were essentially turned away with Mayor John Rhodes giving his impression of a Donald Trump style ‘gotcha’, blaming the community for the problem, attacking the activists and claiming the focus on community violence would hurt tourism.
The three got a better reception at the Horry County Council level with the establishment of a Community Violence Subcommittee to investigate the problem and make a report including recommendations for ways to counter the rising problems of violent crime and drugs in the communities.
To date, in my opinion, the subcommittee has floundered by becoming involved in a comparison study of minutiae related to Horry County and counties in other states, but, at least, it is doing something.
In the interim, public awareness of an increasing epidemic of heroin use has spurred various citizens to ask both the Public Safety Committee and Horry County Council for help in fighting this problem.
While the heroin epidemic is a big problem, it is not the only one. Gangs, violent crime, lack of economic opportunity and the deaths of too many young people in the community all have their part in the overall picture.
The protocols that are established to combat violence in the community are essentially the same that can help combat the drug epidemic.
Developing what are called the “Three C’s” – communication, cooperation, coordination – between and among family members, community leaders, churches, schools and law enforcement is needed to address solutions to the problems.
It has taken time and an expanding heroin epidemic to begin to address the problems that exist in our local communities.
Hopefully, after Monday’s presentation, ways to move forward toward solutions will be evident.