Myrtle Beach City Council Must Broaden Policing Focus

By Paul Gable

Myrtle Beach City Council held an executive session yesterday to discuss safety and security planning for Memorial Day weekend.

That’s great, but it’s only a small part of the public safety problem in the city.

While the Myrtle Beach City Council is looking for better ways to control crowds during Memorial Day weekend, it must not forget it has a growing year around policing problem.

The Atlantic Beach Bikefest may have been the excuse for certain elements to make Myrtle Beach a new “freaknik” destination on Memorial Day weekend.

But, one only has to look at the police blotters to know that significant crimes such as breaking and entering, strong arm robbery, criminal sexual conduct, home invasion and, yes, even murder occur during the other 51 weeks of the year.

The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce has reportedly pledged up to $5 million to the city to help with policing during Memorial Day weekend. But, the city struggled to budget an additional $1 million for public safety for the current fiscal year.

Even if the Myrtle Beach City Council comes up with a plan utilizing the chamber’s pledge of up to $5 million for Memorial Day weekend crowd control, even one that will put armored personnel carriers on every street corner in the city during Memorial Day weekend, the overall problem will not be addressed.

And why should the chamber’s $5 million be targeted to just one weekend? It will come from the city’s tourism sales tax anyway.

After yesterday’s meeting, Myrtle Beach mayor John Rhodes told television media it is going to take time to be able to control what happens on Memorial Day weekend, but the city is working hard to try and make things a lot better.

That’s great, but the mayor must not forget it is not just Memorial Day weekend when public safety problems arise. A more comprehensive plan to address year around public safety concerns is needed.

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