MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Myrtle Beach mayoral candidate Brenda Bethune has talked a lot about “hospitality officers” in her plans for public safety for the city.
Bethune says hospitality officers, or unarmed security guards, would likely be positioned in hot spot areas for tourists, like along Ocean Boulevard and at Broadway at the Beach.
The security guards would be in uniform to help deter crime. Bethune says the hospitality offers are needed because it’s not possible to get the number of officers the Myrtle Beach Police Department needs through the academy in time for summer.
In the last year, the City of Myrtle Beach put up barricades along Ocean Boulevard, brought in officers from all over the state, and made plans to hire more officers to prevent violence. The changes made by the city were initiated after a shooting that injured seven people was streamed on Facebook Live.
Mayoral candidate Brenda Bethune says there’s no doubt the city needs more police officers, but in the meantime, officials have to develop a safety plan.
“It’s going to take time, and we need a plan for our next big tourist season,” describes Bethune. “We can’t wait just to get more police on the street. We need to do something now.”
Bethune says she’s talking to the Responsible Hospitality Institute (RHI) about coming to Myrtle Beach to do an assessment to see where the city needs to put security guards.
“They are the eyes and ears on the street that may be able to curtail a problem before it becomes a problem,” explains Bethune. “If they see an issue of a crowd gathering, they can address that or call in the police to address it, before it goes any further.”
The City of Myrtle Beach would pay RHI $75,000 for the assessment, and then the city would hire the guards. Bethune says she’s talked with the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce about how the city could handle those costs.
“We have a huge group of veterans in our area who, I think, would be willing to work, retired police officers, and so forth,” predicts Bethune. “So, I do think that we have the base right here locally to draw from.”
Bethune says Myrtle Beach needs extra police officers during the tourist season and if security guards could be hired seasonally, it could help solve more than just the crime problem.
“Maybe this is an answer that would help us with our budget and not have the added expense of full time staff for 100 days that are really needed,” says Bethune.
Bethune says the RHI company has worked with over 70 cities that have had the same problems with violence. Some of those include Las Vegas and New Orleans and she’s ready to work with police and city staff to see if it could be the solution to crime in Myrtle Beach.