Calls to Horry County 9-1-1 dropped by nearly 200 from last year’s Memorial Day weekend to this year, according to statistics provided by the county.
Officials used several new strategies this year during Memorial Day weekend, including an increased police presence, a 23-mile traffic loop and steel barricades lining Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach to separate pedestrians from vehicle traffic. The goal was to better control crowds, ease traffic congestion and have a safer weekend than last year, when three people were killed and seven injured in eight shootings along Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach.
The statistics are from Thursday through Monday.
Several hundred thousand visitors flock here during Memorial Day weekend for the long holiday weekend and for Atlantic Beach Bikefest. Leaders worked on the safety plans for a year.
“I really feel truly that the task force met and achieved the goal that was set forth to create a safe environment for the community, Bikefest participants and the public safety personnel working on the event,” said Horry County Emergency Management Director Randy Webster, who was pegged to lead a safety task force for the event. “That was our goal and I feel that we did that as a task force.”
This year, police throughout the area, excluding North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach police and fire, responded to 4,106 calls for assistance compared to 4,301 last year.
Webster said the numbers prove that the traffic loop and stricter rules governing Bikefest were effective.
“As an overall event, I think the stats will prove the outcome,” Webster said. “When you have fewer incidents and crime and fewer severe incidents that took place, I think the stats will speak for themselves.”
Area agencies also responded to 66 motorcycle crashes during the holiday weekend, said Lisa Bourcier, spokeswoman for the county.
Horry County police issued 322 warnings and 220 courtesy citations during Bikefest, Bourcier said. County police made 39 arrests and collected $68,428 in fines. The county said arrest numbers for Memorial Day weekend last year were not available Tuesday. According to Lt. Raul Denis with Horry County Police, those numbers weren’t available because they weren't separately counted last year.
"I grouped them all into citations number, but I would bet they average the same way the other numbers do," Denis said.
During this Memorial Day weekend, more than $14,000 in fines stemmed from driving under suspension charges, according to county records. About $12,000 in fines were from speeding charges.
Last year, Horry County police issued 143 warnings and 204 citations, collecting $36,443 in fines, according to statistics.
There were two calls this year for gunshots heard. The first one resulted in the arrest of Craig Tallambadge Williams, who was charged with attempted murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime, for the shooting of another man on the ninth floor of Compass Cove, 2311 S. Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach on Saturday night. On Sunday, there was another call for shots fired at Compass Cove, but no one was hurt.
“With any huge public safety response to anything, there’s going to be time to go through the reflection of our after action review, which we’ll do, and learn from the lessons that we’ve learned and how to improve for the future,” Webster said. “There’s always going to be those cases.”
Webster said he credits law enforcement with a quick response to Saturday’s shooting at Compass Cove, and their response to the Myrtle Beach Mall traffic crash Thursday as some of the well-planned responses by law enforcement.
“When we went through our tabletop exercise, we talked about things in that particular area of roadway and how if it became blocked by whatever means, what we would do with the traffic,” Webster said.
Webster said the next step is to meet with all of the agencies involved, which may take until mid- or late-June because of event-filled weeks ahead for Myrtle Beach.
“It’ll take a little time, but we can’t let it take too long because we need time for changes that come out of it,” Webster said, adding he is not sure if something similar will be implemented next year. “I’m looking forward to seeing how things may or may not change.”
Staff writer Claire Byun contributed to this report.
Contact JASON M. RODRIGUEZ at 626-0301 or on Twitter @TSN_JRodriguez.
By the Numbers
The agencies dispatched by Horry County E911 and the number of service responses are:
▪ Atlantic Beach | 20
▪ Aynor | 151
▪ Briarcliffe Acres | 29
▪ Conway police | 407
▪ Loris police | 126
▪ Horry County police | 2,279
▪ Horry County Sheriff’s Office | 61
▪ Horry County DEU | 7
▪ Conway Fire | 39
▪ Horry County Fire/Rescue | 945
▪ Surfside Fire | 22
▪ Loris Fire | 20
Source | Horry County