Myrtle Beach police: "Presence of law enforcement is not enough anymore."
Myrtle Beach, S.C. (WPDE) —
Over the Easter holiday weekend, Myrtle Beach Police Department responded to two shootings in less than 24 hours. Now, officials are speaking out about the way communities respond to crime.
The first shooting in the area happened on Saturday morning near 9th Avenue North and Ocean Boulevard. The second happened on Sunday morning near 6th Avenue North and Ocean Boulevard.
Lt. Joey Crosby with the Myrtle Beach Police Department said they had extra officers on duty all weekend because of the holiday. However, that didn't stop crime from happening.
He said both shootings happened with police officers nearby.
"Just the mere presence of law enforcement is not enough anymore. It has to be more than just the presence of law enforcement officers. There is a portion of our society that has no fear of the consequences," said Crosby.
Crosby said the only way to prevent this from happening again is to have a collaborative effort with city officials and business owners.
"We will certainly evaluate our response and ways in which we can improve, but this is certainly going to be a collaborative effort. It can't just solely be a law enforcement response. It's going to take some tough decisions. It's going to take some meetings with the business owners and other people that [are] involved in this to effectively address this," said Crosby.
Mark Kruea, the spokesperson for the City of Myrtle Beach, agreed with Crosby. He said the only way to stop violence is to work together.
For months, the City of Myrtle Beach argued about the Superblock area of the city.
During the debate, business owners said violence could happen anywhere. They stated that closing down one area of bars and clubs would just move the violence to another area.
ABC15 News asked Kruea if they believe the violence has moved to Ocean Boulevard since the Superblock has been shut down.
He said the areas and situations weren't directly comparable.
"I don't know if the issues we've experienced in the Superblock are comparable to the issues we've experienced on Ocean Boulevard. In the Superblock, we had some businesses that may not have been managing their businesses especially well, allowed things to get out of hand. Also, there were some vacant buildings there," said Kruea.
He said they are working to make that area more "family friendly" now.
Kruea also said the people involved in the incidents over the weekend are just a small part of all the visitors who came to Myrtle Beach for Spring Break.
"Ocean Boulevard by its very nature invites crowds and activity. That's the appeal-- it's a happening place. The problem we had this past weekend was that there were people who had bad intentions. There was some gang activity, young people. It's a small percentage of everybody who enjoys Ocean Boulevard," said Kruea.
Right now, the Myrtle Beach Police Department is also experiencing a shortage of officers.
During crowded weekends, like the Easter holiday weekend, officers have the option to put in overtime hours. However, during major weekends, like the Memorial Day Weekend, that overtime is mandatory.
Crosby said they are looking to hire more officers and give some relief to the men and women they have working right now.