City beefs up security ahead of Oktoberfest

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The City of Myrtle Beach is bringing new security measures to large events. After situations like the Boston Marathon bombing, city leaders say they're trying to be proactive when it comes to your protection.

Events on Ocean Boulevard like Oktoberfest on Saturday can draw thousands of people into the downtown area. With that many people in one place, security is always a concern for the city.

"Our goal is to make sure people feel safe when they come to our large events," said city spokesperson Mark Kruea.

Frequent visitors like Gary Franks say it's necessary.

"Because you know [the world] is just not a safe place anymore," said Franks. "And you have to do what you have to do to be proactive."

After several months of discussion in the city's Special Events Technical Review Committee, the first step to improve safety this year was to put those in charge in plain sight.

"You ought to be able to spot a police officer in a crowd. But our event staff, the folks who are there to help make things happen, aren't visible," explained Kruea.

City event staff will now wear bright orange vests with "City Staff" plainly stamped on the back to make themselves easier to see. Staff went through training to learn how to detect all the possible threats that can occur during a large event.

Even though there will be police and event staff standing by, the city also wants help from the crowd. Large signs with the words, "If You See Something Suspicious, call 843-918-1382" will be placed in different areas of events. This is so people will know what to do if they see something, and how to best get in touch with the police department.

"We already have a lot of eyes and ears out there," said Kruea. "This is helping the public to become more conscious of what they need to look for."

The goal is to get as many people as possible to focus on everyone's safety.

"In light of all that's happened," said Kruea, "we want to make sure we're being as safe as we possibly can be."

But some wonder if it's enough to make them feel safe.

"I see its benefits but I think they should go further as well," said Franks.

WMBF News asked the city manager if more measures will be put in place in the future. John Pedersen replied by saying it is something the city always considers, but no other methods are set to be put in place yet.

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