By Paul Gable
The Horry County Public Safety Committee heard a report on gang activity within the county from Lynn Baker, HCPD’s gang intelligence specialist.
According to Baker’s report, at least nine of the 19 murders in the county area last year were gang related and gangs are the cause of many of the 88 shooting and more than 1,000 shots fired calls HCPD responded to.
Baker said a number of gangs are already operating in Horry County and they pose a danger to our neighborhoods.
But, it takes more than just police monitoring and response to counter the growth of gangs in the county. Since she was first hired in 2013, Baker has been telling groups throughout the county that gang activity can be countered by efforts within communities.
Public Safety Committee chairman Al Allen understands the need for a community wide effort to counter the growth of illegal gang activity. That is why Allen appointed a special sub-committee co-chaired by Horry County Council member Jimmy Washington and Horry County School Board member Holly Heniford to investigate means to counter violence in communities within the county.
The sub-committee held its organizational meeting last week and, in the coming months, will hold a series of community meetings throughout the county where it will solicit information from local citizens about problems they have with violence in their respective neighborhoods.
The desired end product from these meetings is a report that will provide a broad based blueprint for reducing violence within our communities. The blueprint will include not only police, but also community leaders, organizations and citizens who work together with local officials and agencies to counter the root causes of violence and lawlessness.
At this time, there are various efforts within our communities, schools, churches and other organizations to address portions of the problem. But, it will take a broad based, coordinated approach to be really effective.
Government agencies are only a portion of this broad based network. Participation from families, citizens and community organizations is needed for this to be successful.
Before solutions to the problems of violence in the communities can be addressed, we must understand the root causes of the problems. They go far beyond gang tattoos, graffiti and identification.
We encourage widespread attendance and input at these community meetings as they are held throughout the county. That is the only way we can begin to get to the real causes of the problems.