Bike Fest stats show increased crime, 3 injured officers

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) The City of Myrtle Beach Police Department released the crime and traffic numbers for the 2012 Atlantic Beach Bike Fest, revealing an increase in nearly every statistic tabulated.

The statistical report for the motorcycle rally calculated the number of crimes reported and traffic incidents that occurred between May 25 and May 28.

Although most of those statistics show an increase over that same time period in 2011, there was one less armed robbery, one less stolen motorcycle and no carjackings, compared to the one reported last year during the bike rally.

In 2012, three officers with the Myrtle Beach Police Department were reportedly injured during the motorcycle rally, compared to zero in 2011.

Another drastic increase can be seen in the number of individuals cited or arrested, with 983 in 2012 compared to 689 in 2011.

The criminal sexual conduct crimes reported in Myrtle Beach increased from one in 2011 to five in 2012.

Officers patrolling during that weekend logged 5,304.5 overtime hours, an increase of 38% over 2011. The numbers of tickets issued for noise increased by 63%.

These statistics have been calculated dating back to 2003.

The report lists several assisting agencies, providing support during the rally, including: Cayce PD, Charleston County SO, Chester PD, Chester County PD. Clarendon County SO, Clover PD, Coastal Carolina University PD, Conway PD, Darlington PD, Horry County PD, Horry County SO, Laurens County SO, Lee County SO, Lexington PD, Manning PD, Mauldin PD, N. Charleston PD, Orangeburg DPS, Pageland PD, Seymour Johnson AFB, Surfside DPS, Winthrop University PD, SC Constables, SLED, Dept. of Corrections, Probation & Parole, and SCHP.

"Obviously by looking at the numbers you can see it was a very busy weekend for us, and a slight increase over last year's numbers," commented Capt. David Knipes with the Myrtle Beach Police Department.

Knipes said the increase was mostly because the city was able to get more officers in town from other agencies.

"During the economic downturn a lot of the other agencies were not able to send officers down here. So our numbers went down. This year it seems to have rebounded a little bit, and our numbers have gone up by almost a hundred extra officers that we had this year compared to the last few," Knipes explained. "Extra eyes out there, seeing more violations, writing more tickets."

So the higher crime report doesn't necessarily mean there was a bigger crowd. In fact, in North Myrtle Beach, the city did not get as much outside help, and the city saw a decrease from 2011 to 2012 in citations, noise violations and arrests during the Atlantic Beach Bike Fest.

"We felt like we controlled the crowd and the noise as much as possible," commented North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley.

She and other members of the Coastal Alliance who met Wednesday said they think the crowd was smaller for both bike rallies this year.

Steve Gosnell, Interim Administrator for Horry County, said during the Harley rally law enforcement efforts were focused on the south Strand area around Murrells Inlet. He said that is not much of a change from previous years, but rain did lighten the crowd he thought.

Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes said the Harley rally did not require additional attention from the city. However, during Atlantic Beach Bike Fest, he said having extra officers in town also allowed some to focus on keeping traffic flowing. He agreed this year's crowd felt lighter.

"We saw a decrease on day trippers this year," he said. "We feel like that was a big plus on things being a little bit more calmed down."

Hatley said North Myrtle Beach's Public Safety Department also had extra help during Bike Fest, and they would have used more if more officers from other areas were available. She too agreed that the area was not as congested as in previous years.

"For the people who live in our community, I would a say a majority of them would say that's good."

Even with crowds a little smaller and crime reports mixed, Knipes said it is likely not enough difference to change plans for future rallies.

"To say that we're going to have any changes as of this point, I doubt it, but we'll never know, and things could change before we come around to next may too."

Copyright 2012 WMBF News. All rights reserved.