Tag: gun violence

Community Violence Subcommittee Report Due Monday

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.

Community Violence Subcommittee Identifies Programs

The Horry County Community Violence Subcommittee made some headway toward connecting with citizens at its meeting Tuesday.

Committee members discussed restarting Crimestoppers in the communities, re-establishing school programs to learn decision making to counter drugs and crime and a 311 information system for Horry County.

Horry County Council member Johnny Vaught, who attended the meeting, told committee members he believed the discussion was a positive step toward identifying recommendations to report to council.

The meeting featured lively discussion among committee members for the first time since the committee began meeting last spring.

The committee also heard a presentation by 15th Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson regarding the heroin epidemic affecting Horry County.

Richardson told committee members the Horry County Coroner’s Office currently handles an average of two heroin overdoses per week resulting in death. Richardson said Horry County is a center of distribution for heroin which originates in Mexico, travels to the New York metropolitan area, then to Horry County.

Richardson began a pilot program for 5th graders in Conway Elementary School to teach about the dangers of the use of opiates and proper decision making to avoid this choice. The program is expected to be extended to seven schools this year.

The committee plans to develop a questionnaire to be circulated among neighborhoods to allow citizens to identify their major concerns about violent crimes, drugs and other issues affecting their lives.

A final report from the committee is due to county council in early 2017 with recommendations for making our communities safer.