MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Residents in the South Beach area are discussing ways to improve the safety of their neighborhood, and part of that includes cleaning up the Virginia Marshall Park at 25th Avenue South and Yaupon Drive.
The park is closed from sunset to sunrise, but neighbors say that is when they notice illegal activity going on there.
In March, the neighborhood watch group coordinated a cleanup day for the park. People picked up trash, but one woman who lives nearby said that's the least of their worries. Barbara Prescop is an active member of the watch group. She said she found evidence of drugs and alcohol in the park. She also found underwear and a tire.
After the cleanup, homeowners discussed with their councilman and police officers different options to make the park safer. They considered closing the park or attempting to add security cameras. Instead, they want to reclaim it.
"We did our part and now we're asking for a little bit of help in monitoring the park," said Prescop. "We'd love to have a trash can in there, secured, so when we do go through and see some trash we can pick it up."
The watch group leaders are also discussing the possibility of Myrtle Beach Police bike patrol officers monitoring the park more often during a shift. And the councilman is determining if adding a security camera to the park is possible.
Over the years, the neighborhood watch group has made a significant impact on the safety of the South Beach area, according to residents and police officers. Prescop credits that to a mentality change in the neighborhood. Now, if someone sees something, they say something. She admits they still see occasional crime, but believes the proactive approach to community policing is making a difference.
"The difference between this end of Yaupon and 18th and above, is it takes residents invested in the community to work with police. It's the key ingredient to fighting crime," said Prescop.
Prescop said police officers told the watch group that over the past few years, the number of calls to police have increased in South Beach, but the seriousness of any crime has decreased. They believe the success is because more people are actually calling to report suspicious activity.
Prescop encourages any neighborhood to take control and start reporting suspicious activity. And you can stay anonymous. Police officers will work with you to make sure it is not obvious who called them to protect your identity.