SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - There has been an increase in arrests in Surfside Beach, partly because of increased efforts in law enforcement.
In August alone, Surfside Beach had a near-40-percent increase in arrests. Most were DUI-related offenses, but there's another new effort police are working on: cracking down on drugs.
A new ordinance took effect in July allowing police to arrest anyone found with drug paraphernalia. Right now under South Carolina law, possessing drug paraphernalia is only a civil offense, which means a person can be ticketed but not arrested. But the new ordinance kicks it up a notch, allowing Surfside Beach Police to arrest a person for possessing any items related to drugs. Officers say they want to show they have a strong stand against drug activity.
"So we can get ahead of the curve on that," explained Lieutenant Kenneth Hofmann. "To make sure people know in advance that we're not going to tolerate it. We don't feel like there's any extensive drug problem is Surfside, but there are drugs everywhere."
Hofmann says officers are taking a cautious approach to the new ordinance at this point, where if a paraphernalia charge is made, the person also has to be in possession of drugs. There has been an average of five arrests related to the ordinance per month, and 14 since July. More than $1,000 has been brought in through fines, and that goes to the town's general fund.