By Paul Gable
For the last three months, the Horry County Community Violence Subcommittee appears to have been stuck in neutral rather than moving forward to address the problems of violent crime in communities throughout the county.
In its last three meetings, Community Violence Subcommittee members have been discussing collection of data, both demographics and crime, from various websites in order to compare Horry County to counties from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
Will this data collection and comparison help?
One assumes what is happening in communities such as Burgess, Poplar, Socastee and Racepath is more important than what is happening in Chatham County, Georgia or Orange County, Florida if the goal is to counter crime and its effects in Horry County.
(If the goal is to complete a report on how Horry County stacks up to other counties in relation to those statistics, then the current work of the subcommittee is on track.)
It would seem that meetings with pastors and other community leaders as well as parents and citizens would yield better information about what the problems are and what the community can do to counter those problems as well as what help it needs from sources such as police and other government agencies.
At one time, Horry County had effective Crimestoppers, D.A.R.E. and community policing programs that have fallen by the wayside in recent years.
The committee is currently scheduled to make a report on its progress at the September 26, 2016, meeting of the Horry County Public Safety Committee. At that time, it plans to present a survey form, presumably developed from its data mining, for citizens, at least in designated high crime areas, to fill out and return.
After receiving the completed survey forms, there seems to be some desire among subcommittee members to meet with citizens and leaders in various communities in the county.
The subcommittee is currently scheduled to present a final report to Horry County Council in early 2017 regarding its recommendations about what is needed to combat the rise in crime the county is experiencing.
Council member Johnny Vaught requested the committee bring to county council specific requests for council to act upon.
County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus said we will not be able to “police” our way out of the problems the county faces with mounting crimes and drug use. He said it’s going to take a complete community effort including churches, schools and parents to combat the problems.
Lazarus is correct. That is why it seems stakeholder meetings for feedback from the communities should have been the first order of business for the subcommittee, not the last thing it does before formulating its final report.
However, it is what it is at this point.