MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The Myrtle Beach Police Department has plans for more officers to patrol several sections of Ocean Boulevard.
The increased visibility is part of the department’s comprehensive plan to enhance public safety, presented before council at a meeting Tuesday.
Officers already regularly patrol the area of Ocean Boulevard between 21st Avenue North and 3rd Avenue South, but the department wants more of a concentration on the oceanfront’s south end – the area from which officers receive the majority of complaints.
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.
Governor Henry McMaster sent state resources to back up Myrtle Beach Police.
Now, nearly four months after the shooting, those state officers are gone and the discussion continues on how to keep the oceanfront safe.
“What we noticed this summer, after some of the incidents we had in that area, is that we were having an influx of incidents south of 3rd Avenue South,” explains Myrtle Beach Police Chief Amy Prock.
Chief Prock approached council Tuesday with a plan to add 10 new officers to waterfront patrol in 2018, and 24 new officers for the division by 2025.
Those officers would allow the waterfront patrol district to expand to cover the area between 3rd Avenue South to 25th Avenue South, an area the district currently does not reach.
“We also talked to our community and received several concerns in reference to some of those areas, and this we feel is important to address the concerns,” says Chief Prock.
Captain Joey Crosby with the department says the south end of Myrtle Beach is a popular tourist spot.
“There’s still a lot of hotels where individuals come to visit our city, so we need to have an additional presence in that area as well,” justifies Capt. Crosby.
But Capt. Crosby explains the expansion only happens if the department is able to get more boots on the ground.
“So that really can’t start until we get those officers?” asks News13’s Maggie Lorenz.
“Correct,” responds Capt. Crosby.
A challenge the city faces is how to cover the cost of more officers, so council and Chief Prock announced in Tuesday’s meeting they will ask the state for the money.
Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce President Brad Dean also weighed in on how the chamber hopes to help the police department.