Horry County Police say better beach safety comes with $1M pricetag

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Horry County Police say they need more resources to keep neighbors and visitors safe on the beach this year.

During Horry County’s A-Tax Committee meeting Wednesday morning, the police department asked for more than $1 million to make it happen. Police say they expect this to be a busy year out on the beaches with more people to protect than in years past.

With more than 8 miles of beach to cover, officers say they need more equipment.  Last year, Horry County Police answered almost 8,500 calls for service on the beach.

“That doesn’t include all the daily contacts and stuff they deal with like tents and things like that out on the beach,” says Captain Jason Freer. “That expands to even thousands of more issues that they deal with. They’re extremely busy during the summer.”Captain Freer is over beach patrol for the county and says every summer his resources are pushed to the max.

Captain Freer is over beach patrol for the county and says every summer his resources are pushed to the max.

“Our presence out there is constant, especially during the peak hours from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at night,” says Capt. Freer.

This year, the department asked for money to pay officers overtime, a new ATV, jet ski, kayak, and rescue sled. Freer says they’re also working to train officers now for beach patrol, and after questions were brought up about certifications of Myrtle Beach life guards, the department is also working to train lifeguards they’re contracted with.

“Part of the contract is every week on a weekly basis, starting on May 1st until September is that we’ll meet up with the lifeguards at a certain time and we’ll do an hour to two hours of training with them to make sure they’re trained up and ready on any issues that may arise,” explains Capt. Freer.

Chief Joseph Hill says with the shortage of officers in the department, they’re already limited, but they have to prepare for an even bigger crowd this summer.

“We’ve seen an influx of visitors year-round, and that’s going to be an indication that this summer is going to be just full on,” predicts Chief Hill.

Today, several different organizations submitted applications for A-Tax money, but it will have to go through three readings from the committee to pass. The next meeting will take place April 26.