County leaders working to tackle youth violence in Horry County

County leaders working to tackle youth violence in Horry County

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The fight is just getting started in Horry County to get rid of rising youth violence in your neighborhoods.  A group of county leaders is meeting Tuesday morning to fine tune a seven-step plan to tackle the issue.  One of those steps might be re-establishing programs once prominent in schools and communities.

The youth violence subcommittee is a branch of Horry County Council made up of members from Horry County Council, the school board, law enforcement and local leaders.  They all have expertise in different fields that, when brought together, they think will help them find a solution to the up-tick in youth crime.

The groups were split up to research their fields to find crime links.  Tuesday's meeting will focus on to narrow down the field of options to tackle the violence problem and write out the last two steps of their seven step call-to-action plan.

According to Reverend Dr. George Payton, spokesperson for the youth violence sub-committee, the first identified step is to understand Horry County's community profile.  The second is to identify other counties comparable to Horry County.  Next, is to review current sheriff and police policies, procedures and resources.  The fourth step is to analyze the gap analysis between Horry County and other comparable counties.  The group is working on the other steps, including the plan of action, Tuesday.

Dr. Payton said what they come up with will be presented to Horry County Council in September and then be followed by community input.  Horry County Councilman Jimmy Washington said public input meetings will be held in the future.

Sub-committee member Holly Heniford believes success is rooted in awareness and revitalizing community programs. "...And that's what needs to get out there.  Stuff we've got, and the communication with that.  And then after we've implemented and re-started all these programs, that's when we need to step back and say, 'Okay where are the holes? Okay what needs are we not meeting in our community?' And we need to go out into the community and talk about what's happening," she said.

Besides working on the seven-step plan, the groups will discuss five items to be possibly implemented in Horry County schools and youth programs.  They're programs Horry County leaders say used to be popular here, but they died out.  Heniford said some of the programs ran on grant money and that grant money is still there for Horry County to take the reins and re-vamp these programs into part of the solution they're looking for.

The five programs under consideration are Crime Stoppers, DARE Program, police satellite stations, SWOT Analysis and the 311 System.

A few of those programs may be re-established, but the 311 system is new. The idea is you dial 311 on your phone for virtually any question about the community. Heniford said it's already a success in larger cities.

"It's like you want to ask questions but you don't know where to call, you may have questions about law enforcement but you don't have a direct phone number, know who to talk to - the 311 would be able to direct people who have non-emergency problems and need some law enforcement attention but they don't need an officer to come to their house immediately," Heniford explained.

She also said 311 gives people the power to answer their own questions.  "[It] gives them empowerment to solve their own problems to take care of their own," Heniford added.

The youth violence sub-committee meeting will be at 9 a.m. Tuesday, August 30.

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