Well, the Atlantic Beach Memorial Day Bikefest has come and gone, and I sense the Monday morning quarterbacks are getting ready to critique the event. I suspect that many will say the loop was excessive, the police too pronounced, the cost too high.
The Sun-News itself led with a headline: “Bikers: Police, traffic loop was overkill.”
I would suggest that such a headline gives the appearance that the newspaper is in agreement, especially when you allow a quote such as this from a Bikefest participant, speaking about the loop and the police presence:
“The presence was too strong. Last year was the best time in my life. They took one incident and blew it out of proportion.”
Does anyone need to be reminded that the ‘one incident’ was a triple homicide? That’s like saying we don’t need lifeboats and flotation vests just because of that one incident on the Titanic.
Here is my take:
It’s very simple; compare Bikefest 2014 to Bikefest 2015. I have to believe the overall plan was a large part of the difference.
I commend the elected officials and department heads from Myrtle Beach and Horry County for having the vision, fortitude and courage to develop this plan and implement it. They knew it would be unpopular; they knew they would take a lot of heat.
But they also knew they had to do something.
They had to make the hard choices. The argument could be made that it would have been a quiet year regardless of the steps taken. To that end, I hope that the aforementioned leaders will implement the same exact plan next year and we will see what happens. Once might be a coincidence, but twice will be an indicator.
With all the negativity that this year’s planning generated, it will be way too easy for people to say we don’t need this, that we are wasting money. How soon we forget what happened.
In a related matter, I have to take issue with a letter to the editor attacking Myrtle Beach Chief Warren Gall. They quote him as saying, when
addressing the out of town officers who aided the Myrtle Beach Police Department and Horry County Police Department:
“Don’t be the spark……you might get some negative words, you might get threatened, you might even get assaulted………be patient and professional.”
The writer then accuses Gall of telling the officers to do nothing, even if they get assaulted. How that interpretation occurred is beyond me.
It is obvious that he is saying do not overreact, handle each incident as it should be, don’t let anger get in the way of your judgment.
To imply that Chief Gall would ever instruct a police officer to stand by while he or she is being assaulted is ludicrous. Such an allegation should not be left unchallenged.
The writer indicates that he is a 20-year-plus veteran of law enforcement. I am a 30-year-plus veteran and was able to rise to command level positions. I, too, would never allow myself or a fellow officer to be assaulted and stand down.
That remains true today, even though I am retired.
I didn’t speak with him, but I can assure you that Chief Gall would never allow it, either.
We have come to a point in history where anyone can say anything and it is never challenged or fact-checked. People do it; government officials do it; the media does it.
I, for one, cannot sit idly by anymore when it occurs.
The writer lives in XXX.