MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Preparations for Atlantic Beach BikeFest this Memorial Day weekend are coming together, as Myrtle Beach police officers meet with business owners for the first "business watch" meeting Friday morning. Police say their goal is to be absolutely transparent with the entire community when it comes to BikeFest. They want everyone- law enforcement, neighborhoods, and businesses- on the same page across the board.
The community is nowhere near forgetting the chaos and violence that ensued during BikeFest in 2014, with eight shootings and three people murdered in just two days. The BikeFest Task Force was created to make sure that doesn't happen again.
The task force has been busy putting together an operational plan, and a pivotal part of that plan, police say, includes educating the community.
Police have been busy meeting with what they call "community watch" groups in neighborhoods across Myrtle Beach, to discuss the plans and expectations during the weekend. And Friday police take those conversations to businesses.
"[Police are working] To educate our business to know exactly what they can expect Memorial weekend, as far as how will the traffic loop affect their business, how the traffic pattern on Ocean Boulevard may affect them," says Lt. Joey Crosby with the MBPD.
Crosby says the responsibility to maintain order during Memorial Day this year does not just belong to the men and women wearing a badge. There is a big responsibility on the shoulders of downtown businesses.
Crosby says the first recommendation coming from the MBPD this morning when officers meet with businesses - make sure you have enough people staffed. Officers will also be going over the operational plan with business owners. It's crucial, police say, to get everyone on the same page. That transparency is the only way security and control will be maintained this year.
Police will also hand business leaders another key safety expectation, the part they're responsible for. In addition to being absolutely staffed, police will give businesses a list of private security companies licensed thru SLED or who have local business licenses.
"Another part of our operational plan is to increase visibility," says Crosby. "And so what we're asking the business owners to do, is if they can handle the non criminal activity on their property, and allow us to focus our attention on the roadways and the sidewalks, to address any criminal matter that may be there."
Crosby says there will be more "business watch" meetings as BikeFest draws closer. The meeting Friday will begin at 8 a.m.