Chamber considers ATAX money to bring more police to Bikefest

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce is looking into using accommodations tax money to add more police to next year's Bikefest.

At a meeting Tuesday afternoon, MBACC president Brad Dean said that if the area doesn't do anything to address the violence from this year's Atlantic Beach Bikefest, the long-term effects will be detrimental.

Dean said that the chamber will look into modifying state law to make it possible to direct ATAX money to bring in additional law enforcement over Memorial Day weekend next year.

"It's not a problem with our local law enforcement," Dean said, "It's not having enough. This is the first and only time I will advocate redirecting funds for law enforcement."

The chamber also discussed hiring outside resources experienced in handling similar situations, assembling a law enforcement task force, establishing checkpoints, setting a curfew, bringing in specialized law enforcement agencies, arranging transportation to jails, and placing armed security at high-risk locations.

Last week, Governor Nikki Haley said that the Atlantic Beach Bikefest should end. On Monday, Atlantic Beach Mayor Jake Evans argued in favor of the event, saying the problem was miscommunication between municipalities and agencies. On Tuesday, Gov. Haley vowed to sit down with Atlantic Beach leadership to discuss the issues.

More than 20 members were at the MBACC meeting Tuesday afternoon to discuss the issues surrounding the Atlantic Beach Bikefest, which was held from May 22 to May 26 this year.

"What we witnessed during the Memorial Day weekend was tragic and unacceptable.  We as a community must find ways to combat this problem and ensure that this type of lawlessness will no longer be tolerated.  That is going to require a substantial increase in law enforcement," said Dean. "We will continue to be a staunch advocate for the promotion of tourism in the Myrtle Beach area and will remain focused on ensuring the safety of all visitors.  But in this instance, we are choosing to do our part to help stop criminals and felons from putting a damper on what should be a weekend to celebrate our military heroes, and serve as the kickoff to the summer vacation season.  It is my hope that other business organizations and community-based groups will step up to this challenge and join the effort. "

Read a complete letter from Dean regarding the problems he saw during Bikefest 2014, and the solutions he is proposing:

Myrtle Beach Police reported at least eight shooting incidents over that period that left three people dead and several more injured.

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