NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) -The South Carolina Attorney General’s office recently delivered an opinion that allows South Carolina law enforcement agencies the ability to form mutual-aid agreements with out-of-state agencies.
North Myrtle Beach asked the state for legal clarification after the city faced increasing competition with nearby municipalities to employ extra help during the annual Bike Fest.
“As the years have gone by it’s gotten harder and harder to get resources and one of the things also is some of the agencies we reach out to in the state, aren’t that big and they can’t really afford to let a lot of resources go for that period because they have things going on in their own jurisdictions,” explained North Myrtle Beach Police Chief Greg Purden.
Grand Strand municipalities bring in out-of-area officers to help combat the influx of tourists and traffic during large festivals and events like Bike Fest.
“Quite honestly if we didn’t have this help, we would not be able to keep up with calls for service with the traffic issues we have,” Purden said.
He attributes the lack of traffic fatalities in the city last year due to the additional help.
Events, like Bike Fest, that encompass the entire Grand Strand, puts municipalities in competition with each other in finding outside help.
“All those other agencies are soliciting for the same assistance, so it’s hard when that well gets a little shallow, so this will allow us to go a little bit further out in our search for assistance and I think it is going to work out great for us.,” Purden said.
He explained this new option will allow the city to find officers who have experience working traffic and in motorcycle units.
Purden also predicts the Attorney General’s opinion will be useful during hurricanes or other natural disasters.
“This is another tool we have in our toolbox and we hope it will be available to use,” Purden said.
The department has started contracting agencies in and out of state for May’s event but hasn’t finalized where additional officers will come from.
Last year, North Myrtle Beach spent around $113,000 for extra law enforcement assistance during Memorial Day.
It’s unclear if contracting with out-of-state agencies will increase that cost.
“In the grand scheme of things you can’t really put a price tag on safety and you can’t put a price tag on keeping a community safe and that’s kind of how we look at that. We’re very fortunate to have them but the most important things is keeping our folks safe,” Purden said.