Myrtle Beach considers stricter curfew, barricades to combat violence

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Hundreds of people came together Tuesday in Myrtle Beach to see what city leaders plan to do to combat recent violence.

When seven people were injured during a shooting early Sunday morning on Ocean Boulevard, Myrtle Beach gun violence made national headlines.

“Members of city council and the city are upset and angry that people think they can come here to our city and commit criminal acts,” said Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes.

In Tuesday’s Myrtle Beach city council meeting, Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus was the first to speak.

“I just am here simply to say that we’re here to help. We’re here to offer assistance, and I know that if the shoe was on the other foot, you would do the same,” said Lazarus.

Brad Dean, President of the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce, says they’re asking businesses to wire their cameras to the city’s security system and work with the city on their security plans.

Several people asked that tourism dollars go towards the police department to hire more officers, and Dean told the city he would be on board with whatever council decided to do.

“There are 83,000 people in our community that are dependent upon tourism, and frankly, I’ll be damned if I’m going to let a bunch of criminals keep us from doing the job that we’ve all committed to do, and I hope you’ll join me in that resolve,” said Dean.

City Manager John Pedersen says they’re ramping up recruiting efforts for new officers and need to make adjustments to salaries of law enforcement personnel.

The City of Myrtle Beach says several actions are occurring in the wake of the shooting. At next Tuesday’s regular city council meeting, an ordinance to extend the juvenile curfew will be on the agenda, city leaders confirm in a recent Facebook post. Myrtle Beach currently has a 1:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. curfew for ages 17 and under. Moving the curfew hour to midnight, or earlier, will be the subject of discussion.

Santee Cooper also has agreed to install 200 of the brighter LED lights on second and third-row streets, for better visibility. In addition, the city will put barricades along the sidewalks in certain areas, to keep pedestrians from getting into the street. The barricades will be implemented on a trial basis to see if the solution is helpful. In this weekend’s shooting, the fight spilled into the street before the gun was pulled. Keeping pedestrians safe and on the sidewalk is the goal, officials say.

Still, some council members say it’s going to take a more aggressive approach on the boulevard to solve the violence.

“Let’s relax this and get away from this voluntary compliance, and let’s go to work and show folks here that we’re tired of talking the talk and now we’re going to walk the walk,” said city council member Mike Lowder.

Governor Henry McMaster will also be in Myrtle Beach Thursday to talk with law enforcement to see what else can be done to keep people safe in the city.