ISLE OF PALMS, S.C. (WCBD) – Video from a memorial day party on the Isle of Palms shows a hectic scene as law enforcement worked to get things under control. Law enforcement and local legislators say they’re working to get ahead of the next party.
The video shows several people standing on cars, partying in a city parking lot. Now some residents are asking leaders to address the issue before it becomes a larger problem. Isle of Palms Police Chief Kevin Cornett says addressing the issue is a focus of his.
“Memorial Day weekend was, we had several instances that kind of took place,” says Chief Cornett.
The pop-up party was originally pushed out of North Charleston after starting at a Charleston County park. It then moved to the Isle of Palms, originating on the beach before police disbursed the crowd. The group then gathered in a city parking lot along Front Beach, turning into a headache for the police.
“And we started getting information that some of them may have weapons and may be looking to become involved in some sort of altercation,” says Chief Cornett.
Chief Cornett says his officers were able to get the party quickly under control without issue but he fears next time could be worse, like the mass shooting happening hours later at a similar party in downtown Charleston.
“My concerns are really focused on preventing violent crime from taking place,” says Chief Cornett.
Chief Cornett and other law enforcement agencies are calling on state leaders for help. State Representative Joe Bustos filed gang violence prevention legislation last November to start the conversation.
“When we have civilians being shot, being victimized like this, this is something we need to start getting ahead of,” says Representative Bustos.
The bill is currently sitting in the Judicial Committee. Representative Bustos says if approved, it would provide needed tools for law enforcement and prosecutors to be able to crack down on crime with harsher penalties.
“Identify gang members, they can be tracked,” says Representative Bustos. “Then in the court system, they can be punished and not be given a slap on the wrist and be sent on their way.”
Both leaders and law enforcement know the best solution will take a team effort across the region. Chief Cornett is hopeful a regional gang task force can be formed.
“We can be working together on the front, we can be proactive about it,” says Chief Cornett. “We can prevent these crimes from happening and put people in jail before they are able to commit these violent crimes.”
Chief Cornett says at least two arrests were made on the Isle of Palms related to the pop-up party for illegal firearms. He says he will continue to work with state and local agencies to address the issue.