MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The city manager has asked council to suspend the renting of mopeds and golf carts this weekend and be prepared to issue a curfew if needed after a rowdy weekend of large crowds and a gang shooting.
“We had some very undesirable behavior this past weekend,” said city manager John Pedersen at Monday’s emergency council meeting. “What we are seeing, not just in Myrtle Beach, but across the country, is a psychology of people who have spent the last 80 days inside quarantined or social distancing and they have the opportunity to get out and come to a place like Myrtle Beach.”
Crowds of people partied on the streets or in vacant parking lots this past weekend with no regard for social distancing. Also, police responded to two shooting incidents on North Ocean Boulevard by rival gang members from Chesterfield County. The shootings are not related to the dance party from earlier in the day.
“This is our home,” said council member Jackie Hartley. “We do not mind sharing our beautiful city, but we do expect our visitors to give the city the respect it deserves.”
City Police Chief Amy Prock said the Myrtle Beach Police Department had 338 calls for service on Friday, 498 on Saturday and 411 on Sunday from traffic-related issues. MBPD had 30-40 officers working the day shift and 35-42 officers working the night shift. On Sunday, three response teams were called in to work the evening shift to address the hotspot areas.
“To a large degree, that was something there was no way to completely anticipate,” Pedersen said. “Now that we have witnessed it, we need to be ready to deal with it going forward.”
Chief Prock said the lack of communication with businesses led to inaccurate information. “It was disappointing to me and my staff that communication with our business community was lacking with our department,” she said. “I was extremely disappointed to hear of the lack of participation.”
Chief Prock also said businesses should let MBPD know about last-minute changes. “If it’s 6 o’clock in the morning or 6 o’clock at night and numbers are rising at the hotel businesses or any businesses, we are a phone call away so that we can ensure we have the staffing.”
Here are additional steps that could or will be taken this coming holiday weekend:
- Barricades will be set up for quick deployment and for blocking roadway if necessary
- A diversion of traffic off Ocean Boulevard and the city will close it down if needed
- Early business closings and a curfew into place if needed under “extraordinary event” declaration
- Traffic congestion relief teams for dispersing crowds and vehicles
- Bond hearings will be held every six hours, and the clerk of courts will be open around the clock
- More than 100 assisting agency officers from the state, more than 20 assisting officers from local jurisdictions
- A traffic congestion management plan, compliance teams, and strict enforcement
- Ask businesses to please make sure their parking lots are secure when they leave
- A modified emergency lane to reach calls
- Canceled a baseball tournament because the city doesn’t think it could be held in compliance with social distancing
“To my knowledge, we’re the only beaches open that are in close proximity to many states, so we need to anticipate that many people are going to be flocking to our area,” Chief Prock said.
Pedersen also says people should let the city know about any issues immediately, so they don’t grow. “If you do see something, rather than posting it on social media, call us right away,” he said.
Pedersen advises residents to avoid driving on Ocean Boulevard this weekend due to the anticipated vehicle and pedestrian traffic.