Myrtle Beach plans to ask state to pay for more police officers, resolution indicates

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The City of Myrtle Beach has a new plan for getting more police officers and keeping people safe.

City officials have made a number of changes after a summer of shootings, including one seen by millions of people on Facebook Live. The June 18 shooting was streamed on Facebook Live as a mass of people walked down Ocean Boulevard, some pouring out into the streets, appearing to harass drivers passing by.

The video goes on to show a fight amongst four or five individuals, which leads to one man pulling a gun from his pants and firing multiple shots into the crows. Seven people were injured, according to Myrtle Beach Police.

In a separate shooting Sept. 24, a pregnant woman and her unborn baby died in a shootout on Spivey Avenue in Myrtle Beach.

The violence, and how to stop it, has turned into a political issue. Some candidates for mayor and city council say the city needs to hire more officers.

It appears the City of Myrtle Beach will try to not only add officers but also increase available resources to stop the violence affecting city neighborhoods and possibly hindering tourism growth.

News13’s Maggie Lorenz got a copy of the city’s plan to “enhance and expand public safety services.”

City council members and police will talk about the plan in Tuesday afternoon’s city council meeting. The resolution says the city has more visitors and police need more resources. Specifically, the city’s written plan calls for the following initiatives:

  • Successful retention of existing police officers and staff
  • Enhanced officer efficiency/effectiveness through:
    • Greater use of technology
    • Revised deployment strategies
    • Improved procedural and paperwork processes
    • Increased use of crime data
    • Continues training of all law enforcement personnel
    • Greater us of civilians in positions now occupied by sworn staff
    • Improved internal communications
  • Crime reduction through environmental design
  • Community outreach, involvement, and communication
  • Addressing root causes of criminal behavior
  • Increased police presence on the street, with adequate support staff

A challenge the city faces and has discussed at previous city council meetings is how to cover the cost of more officers. In the written plan to be discussed Tuesday, the city states it will request money from the state.

The city will “depend on the assistance that the state may be able to provide,” in terms of a financial impact. The resolution does not say how the extra officers and resources would be afforded if the state refuses to give the city the cash. The resolution does not include a dollar amount to be requested.

In a public meeting Tuesday, June 20, Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce President Brad Dean vowed to support the City of Myrtle Beach in whatever way possible. In a follow-up interview June 23, Dean said redirecting funds to police is likely the best option to get more officers on the streets.

“While advertising is a good investment, there’s no better investment we can make than safety, and I think right now, if we look at redirecting funds from accommodation taxes, revisiting the Tourism Development Fee law, or even possibly rededicating some of the hospitality fees to law enforcement,” Dean said in June.

News13 reached out to Dean Tuesday to see if he still plans to give some of the chamber’s money back to the city to be used to hire police officers.

“We’re in full support of Chief Prock and her plans, as I have said before we would be more than willing to direct advertising money to law enforcement,” confirms Dean. The chamber president says, however, cash sharing is easier said than done.

“Right now, because of the way state law is set up, we can’t do that,” states Dean. “We plan to go to the legislature in January when they convene can ask them to relax the law or change the law so we can redirect money to law enforcement.”

Dean says the conversation to allow the funds to exchange hands has already started.

“We did this before in 2014 when we redirected money to law enforcement for bike week,” Dean recalls “We have been working closely with Rep. Clemons, the Myrtle Beach rep., who also sits on the ways and means committee.”

Dean says he could not speak to how much the chamber would be willing to redirect to law enforcement. He’ll have a better idea of that exact number in January.