Dozens of extra officers brought in to patrol Bike Fest

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Bikers poured into the Grand Strand Tuesday, several days before the official Memorial Day Weekend Bike Fest kicks off- but police said they are prepared for the influx of people.

North Myrtle Beach Spokesperson Patrick Dowling said extra patrols are being brought in from across the state of South Carolina to help improve traffic control, crowd control and the overall quality of life for the visitors and local residents.

"We've got about 50 plus auxiliary officer's to help us. We've also got the State Highway Patrol which brings in a large presence anyway," Dowling said.

Dowling said the city is spending $100,000 to pay for the extra resources it's bringing in.

In 2012, 41 arrests were made and 61 citations other than traffic tickets were issued during Friday and Saturday of Bike Fest. Dowling said the crime in 2012 was higher than a typical summer weekend, but had an average number of incidences when compared to any other festival weekend in the city.

But, Dowling said the city is taking extra steps to deter crime, even using social media to find out where people are going to be, and what they're going to be doing.

"We monitor the Internet and we find out what's going on. It's a very good tool for us. We know who's going where, where the large parties might be. Where they may be planning large parties that you can't hold in a city simply because what they intend to do," Dowling said.

Dowling said although there were some crimes like car break-ins in 2012, the number of crimes is actually down when compared to years past.

"A decade ago when this was new to us, and there were 400-thousand bikers in town, we did have a lot of enforcement problems because there was just an attitude but that attitude doesn't exist anymore," Dowling said.

On Friday morning, there will be a bike shute set up in North Myrtle Beach from 27th Avenue South to 37th Avenue South in an effort to separate bike traffic from the cars that are not trying to be a part of the festival.

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