North Myrtle Beach sees spike in underage drinking arrests

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – As the busy summer season started to wind down, police in North Myrtle Beach saw a spike in arrests.  Officers told WMBF News a good portion of those arrests had to do with young people drinking too much.

More than 30 people found themselves behind bars, facing multiple charges after more than a thousand Coastal Carolina students packed the House of Blues for a dance party.  The goal of the party was to make a video that came at the same time as the college group "I'm Shmacked" arrived into town.

"I'm Shmacked" is a group that travels the country profiling parties at universities.  The group gains momentum through social media, and the NMB Department of Public Safety knew well ahead of time what was going to happen and when.

"They elected to come to the House of Blues and we knew about that going in, so we had some extra staff there - some extra people coordinating with Coastal Carolina and Horry County," said NMB Director of Public Safety Jay Fernandez.

Those dozens of arrests made up a portion of the 235 arrests in NMB during the month of August.  In 2013, the NMB Department of Public Safety said it arrested 94 fewer people during the same time.

Officers in NMB will be the first to admit that high school and college parties have always been something police had to deal with but, thanks to social media and the relatively new Alcohol Enforcement Team, police are getting the upper hand.

Fernandez said the team is about enforcement and education.  He also said it appears the AE Team appears to be having an impact, because people know about it.

"They already knew about us because they had already seen us from the year before, or they heard from their fellow students back home, and were aware of us and this year seemed to work out much better," added Fernandez.

The NMB Department of Public Safety also told WMBF News the spike in arrests may partly be attributed to the fact that many stores and outlets added loss prevention officers this year, which led to more arrests of people who stole items from businesses.

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