Tag: Horry County Community Violence Subcommittee

More Action Needed to Combat Community Violence

Two different shooting incidents in Longs over the weekend again highlighted the need for a comprehensive plan to combat community violence in Horry County.

Horry County police have responded to numerous shooting incidents in the Longs community over the past year.

But, it isn’t just the Longs community that is suffering from this type of violence. Conway, Myrtle Beach, Loris, Carolina Forest and Socastee, to name a few, have also suffered from shooting incidents in their neighborhoods.

Horry County Public Safety Committee chairman Al Allen appointed a special Community Violence Subcommittee to investigate violence in our communities last spring.

At the time, Allen charged subcommittee members to identify the causes and influences that lead to violence in the community as well as visit with all public, private and church groups presently operating to reduce violence and crime in Horry County to rank their effectiveness.

To date, the subcommittee has been stuck with comparing Horry County crime statistics to similar counties in four other states. There has been no effort by committee members to have meetings with community leaders throughout the county as of yet.

Community violence is not a problem that can be cured just with policing and suppression. The root causes and solutions require efforts from parents, students, teachers, preachers and other community leaders to combat.

As one community leader has stated on numerous occasions, it takes a collaborative, coordinated, communicative effort from all segments of the population to combat the causes and find the solutions for violence in our communities.

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.

Community Violence Meetings Next Week

Horry County’s Community Violence Subcommittee is scheduled to meet again next week, hopefully to move forward on a plan to address crime problems in neighborhoods.

For its first four months of existence, the subcommittee has been stuck on compiling statistics comparing Horry County to counties in neighboring states.

I suppose that’s an approach. In the meantime, Horry County is experiencing approximately 20 deaths per month from heroin overdoses, according to local media reports, and violent crimes are on the rise.

All of the violence in our local communities can’t be tied directly to an increasing heroin epidemic that officials are beginning to acknowledge exists in Horry County. Poverty and lack of opportunities to rise above it play their parts also.

Interestingly, the Myrtle Beach Police Department is hosting a forum called “Facing the Heroin Epidemic Head On” at the Recreation Center on the former Air Force Base Tuesday August 16th beginning at 6:30 p.m.

When local community activists went before Myrtle Beach City Council nearly six months ago asking for help in combating community violence, Mayor John Rhodes blamed the activists for the problems and said crime was decreasing in Myrtle Beach.

The activists were also told they were ‘hurting tourism’ by focusing on community violence problems.

A raging heroin epidemic will hurt tourism a lot more. Maybe that’s why the Myrtle Beach forum will address the problem next week.

While local governments have begun to address the community violence problem, at least acknowledging it exists, a local group of pastors has been holding meetings in various communities around the county. This seems to be the most intelligent approach. It does seem logical to learn about community violence problems from those most affected by them.