MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The Myrtle Beach Police Department says it is all hands on deck for the Atlantic Beach Bikefest. Nearly every city employee, police officer, and emergency responder is staffed to work through the Memorial Day weekend.
It takes a team effort to pull off the operational plan the police department has been working on for months. It includes public works crews setting out all the barricades, which started last week. The sanitation crews are setting out more trash cans and will be working to keep the city clean through the holiday. The fire department and hospital staff will be responding to emergency situations. And office staff that you might not normally see will be performing tasks like transporting officers to different posts.
Police officers from other state and out-of-state agencies were invited to help again this weekend. These officers helped in every way from directing traffic, to transporting people to and from jail, to working in the communication center. Myrtle Beach Police Lt. Joey Crosby said around 580 officers came to help last year.
"We're anticipating to have that same level of response this year," said Lt. Crosby. "Again, just as last year those numbers continue to fluctuate up and down depending upon what's happening at their home agencies. So those numbers are being finalized at this time as we're putting the final touches on the operational plan."
All of this extra help allows police officers to focus on their task at hand and be more accessible and visible to the public. Another group that will help in this effort is the Myrtle Beach Ambassador program. And there will be more ambassadors helping this year for Bikefest. Of the 200 ambassadors who are now trained, 50 of them are expected to volunteer for the holiday weekend.
The ambassadors took a class with the police department to make sure they understand their roles, where they'll be stationed, and how to answer visitors' questions. Last year, the traffic loop and barricades were the focus for most of the questions ambassadors had to answer. This year, the volunteers will have the new map service available to help direct people. They'll be able to explain the traffic loop, where to get out, and where it might be congested. And ambassadors will have a QR code ready to let visitors download the information.
Monika Newman joined the Ambassador program when it started last year. She said she is excited to volunteer for Bikefest again, because she loves meeting new people and seeing all the unique bikes and cars. Newman said last year when people would ask about the barricades, she would explain they're for everyone's safety. She said visitors and bikers responded well to the changes.
"Bikers and drivers last year said that was a good idea, because they just don't walk into the street and walk into the bikes. Then of course the loop, why the loop?! Well again, it's for your protection," explained Newman.
The ambassadors will wear bright orange shirts that say "Myrtle Beach Ambassador" so they will easy stand out in the crowds. For everyone's safety, the ambassadors have no real policing power. They are there to help represent the city and answer questions.
If you would like to start planning your route with the traffic loop, click this link to go to the Myrtle Beach Police Department's website. Once you're there, click on the "Memorial Day Weekend" tab and then on the "Need to Know" option. If you click on the map, it will launch the interactive map service for the traffic loop.