Myrtle Beach police officers, real-time crime unit included in budget

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The City of Myrtle Beach meets Tuesday for the final reading of the 2017-2018 budget in hopes of getting it approved by city council.

Similar to last year, the new budget is roughly $190.6 million and it does not include a tax increase. However, the city is adding 14 new positions, including five new police officers and two real-time crime analysts.

The city says it has three priorities: safety, community development, and neighborhood development. The introduction of the real-time crime unit is touching on the safety aspect by having a staff to monitor nearly 800 surveillance cameras around the city.

“With five additional officers, some additional support staff, we’re doing everything we can, taking advantage of the technology that we have,” explains Myrtle Beach Spokesperson Mark Kruea. “This will get us farther down the road.”

The plan was first brought to the city by former Myrtle Beach Police Chief Warren Gall. He said he wanted to be able to prevent more crimes by keeping an eye on situations as they unfold. The former chief also wanted to make sure big shopping areas like Broadway at the Beach, Coastal Grand Mall, or Walmart were on board with providing footage to the police department when crimes happen there.

“We’d like to be able to have those feeds directly into our police departments because of the number of calls for service we receive there,” said Gall.

Former Chief Gall explained during a March city council meeting that the police department is trying to invade upon a business’ privacy or security measures, but rather, wants to create partnerships especially in areas where officers are frequently called.

“We’re not asking them to put their feed into the police department,” explained then Chief Gall. “We’d just like to know where the cameras are, so when we have a crime, we’ll know who we can go to, who’s going to cooperate, and who’s agreeing to say ‘yes, you can have whatever footage I have.’”

The real-time crime unit is going to cost about $126,000 from the budget after factoring in salaries, gear, equipment, and computer hardware and software.

Myrtle Beach City Council meets Tuesday at 2 p.m. at the Ted C. Collins Law Enforcement Center to discuss whether or not to approve next year’s budget.