A special panel tasked with finding solutions to Horry County’s struggles with violent crime will begin working toward a set of specific goals next week.
Horry County Councilman Al Allen, who appointed the subcommittee in February, last week provided a more detailed outline for the group, which will meet at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Horry County Government and Justice Center in Conway.
“I wanted to come back and to establish the subcommittee on the right track so that there won’t be any questions involved,” Allen said. “This is something that I take extremely seriously and also something that we here at the county take extremely seriously.”
We don’t want you to just be another rubber stamp committee. We really want you to put your heart and soul into this thing and help us to understand ... what is working and what is not working, not only with the county but with the communities also and the school system.
Horry County Councilman Al Allen
Allen created the committee after Grand Strand activists pleaded with county officials to search for new approaches to battling violent crime in the area.
Last year, the county had 26 homicides, with law enforcement investigating one in every month except June. Over the last five years, the county has averaged 22 homicides per year.
The subcommittee consists of local law enforcement, county officials and community leaders. The group is led by councilman Jimmy Washington, the subcommittee’s chairman, and school board member Holly Heniford, the vice chair.
Allen gave more specific instructions to the committee when he spoke with its leaders last week. He said his initial explanation was too vague and he wanted the group to be clear about what he and other council members are looking for.
“We don’t want you to just be another rubber stamp committee,” he said. “We really want you to put your heart and soul into this thing and help us to understand ... what is working and what is not working, not only with the county but with the communities also and the school system.”
Allen said the committee should interview law enforcement about the crime problems, particularly those involving youth violence, as well as the leaders of community organizations that work to prevent youth crime.
God is moving in our community in a special way. That gives us an opportunity to see him wanting to bring change.
Pastor George Payton, St. Elizabeth Missionary Baptist Church in Aynor
Each program will be graded and ranked, and committee members will prepare a full report for the council that looks at whether any county funding should be redirected and focused on other projects.
The committee will give a preliminary update to council members in September and a full report with formal recommendations is expected in early 2017.
“We really want to see some good things come out of this. We want some good stuff, folks. We want some meat,” Allen said.
George Payton, pastor of St. Elizabeth Missionary Baptist Church in Aynor, said he’s glad to see other community leaders and officials collaborating on this effort.
“God is moving in our community in a special way,” he said. “That gives us an opportunity to see him wanting to bring change.”