It’s time to recap Myrtle Beach’s comprehensive response to the Ocean Boulevard shooting, which received much attention in June. In response to that incident, the city immediately took the following steps, which have been successfully implemented.
First, we increased police presence three-fold on Ocean Boulevard and nearby streets. Not only did the number of Myrtle Beach officers on duty triple, but we received great assistance from other local, regional and state law enforcement agencies. Safety and enforcement were and are the top priority, as evidenced by how successful and generally calm the remainder of the summer has been.
Second, we asked Santee Cooper to speed up installation of new and brighter LED street lighting. Not only did Santee Cooper jump right on that request, but they fulfilled every part of it. We now have 222 new LED street lights from Eighth Avenue North to 29th Avenue South.
Third, City Council swiftly acted to extend the curfew hour for juveniles from 1 a.m. to midnight. Those who are 17 and under do not need to be on the streets without parental supervision after midnight.
Fourth, we continued to utilize our technology to keep an eye on things on the Boulevard and elsewhere. With 800 surveillance cameras around town and license plate readers at every entrance and exist, the Myrtle Beach Police Department is aware of problems sometimes before they even exist.
Fifth, we increased our direct messaging, advising visitors through portable signs and billboards that surveillance cameras are in operation ("Smile, you’re on camera!") and that an earlier midnight curfew exists for juveniles.
Sixth, for a one-month trial period, we used railings to keep pedestrians on the sidewalks. This test worked well. Many of the earlier problems had occurred because crowds of young people spilled into the streets. We will look for a long range solution that is more aesthetically pleasing, although cities across the world already use similar devices to keep people on sidewalks.
Seventh, the city continues to require that property owners take care of their own properties. We need to present an attractive front door for our visitors, and the city is stepping up code enforcement efforts to make sure this occurs.
Eighth, Myrtle Beach continues to welcome redevelopment throughout the central business district. Providing family-friendly places to visit, dine, shop and sleep will go a long way toward our reputation as a quality destination with safe and welcoming atmosphere. The city is willing to lead the way through redevelopment of the Super Block with a new library and children’s museum.
Ninth, City Council capped the number of mo-peds and golf carts that can be rented, so that these vehicles won’t grow exponentially and further affect traffic.
Together, these actions and others have boosted the confidence of our residents, visitors and businesses. The City of Myrtle Beach is working diligently with all of our partners, especially the business community, to provide that perfect vacation experience.
The writer is the public information officer for the city of Myrtle Beach.