Violence sparks action in Horry County - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Violence sparks action in Horry County

Horry County Council is looking at several ways to combat crime. (Source: WMBF News) Horry County Council is looking at several ways to combat crime. (Source: WMBF News)

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A taxi cab driver shot to death Monday in Conway and a 19-year-old murdered early last week in Loris are just two recent examples of violent crime in Horry County that have both locals and county officials shaking their heads.

"We realize this crime problem we're having is a societal thing," Horry County Councilman Johnny Vaught said. "You know, it starts at home, families that aren't complete families anymore like they used to be, traditionally. Sometimes, there's only one parent and sometimes no parents."

Vaught said Horry County Council is planning to fix that part by giving kids what they might not be getting at home.  

A sub-committee focused on youth violence was formed in Horry County earlier this year. It's made up of community, police and council members. One of the goals is the implementing of several programs in the county, including "Keeping it Real, a modernly named and reformatted version of the commonly known DARE Program. 

"Keeping it Real" will focus on decision making from drugs and peer-pressure, to general life decisions. Vaught said it was introduced by a member of Horry County Council's Youth Violence Sub-Committee.  

Council members plan for it to be widespread throughout Horry County's sixth graders, similar to Project Lead.  However, that initiative is aimed at fifth graders.

Vaught said these two programs piggy-back off each other to help kids have a smoother transition in to high school and to encourage them to use their knowledge from those programs to stay away from crime.

"We really think we can make a lot of impact," he said.

In addition to "Keeping it Real," the Youth Violence Subcommittee has used their time to coordinate plans of a "311 program." Already used in other cities, it provides a way for citizens to ask general questions about things like debris removal. Vaught said there will be a phone app available.  

Council is also looking to implement a program already used in South Carolina called the "211 system."

But what's already familiar to long-time Horry County residents is the Crime Stoppers program, one that is available nationwide. However, area agencies will utilize local media outlets to publicize case leads and the need for tips.  

Tips leading to an arrest or breaks in a case can lead to rewards.

For example, right now San Antonio Crime Stoppers is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest of a cop killer.  In San Diego, a $1,000 reward is being offered for the arrest of burglars.

Crime Stoppers used to exist in Horry County, but Vaught said it slowly faded about 10 ago, soon after it was used to solve the murder of Cpl. James Lyden of the Horry County Police Department.  

Lyden is the last HCPD officer to be murdered.

Crime Stoppers runs on donations and is powered by volunteers. Vaught said the growth in retired police officers will hopefully give Crime Stoppers the "oil to run."

Mike Grabarz is president of the Coastal Carolina Shields, a fraternal group of retired law enforcement officers. He confirmed Tuesday the rebirth of Crime Stoppers in Horry County with this statement to WMBF News:

"Crimestoppers is a fantastic program that was used in past years by many law enforcement departments around the country.  Horry County Police Chief Joseph Hill is restarting this program within our county.

Chief Hill is reaching out to the Coastal Carolina Shields for assistance with this program because of the resources we have available from our 860+ members from over 500 departments in the United States.  Our members have wide-ranging backgrounds in solving cases within their own communities & towns. These officers have extensive investigative skills in solving cases ranging from murder to serious assault in both large & small communities & towns across the United States.

We will assist Chief Hill in any way we can to help restart this program and make Horry County a safer place to live for all its citizens.

On Nov. 28, the program plans will be presented to the public safety committee before moving to full council.

Vaught said Horry County Police Chief Joe Hill does not need council's permission to restart Crime Stoppers in Horry County.

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