Officials: 300,000 bikers expected at Memorial Day Bike Fest

Published: May. 16, 2011 at 10:24 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 6, 2011 at 12:31 PM EDT
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NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - As Atlantic Beach prepares to host thousands of bikers for Memorial Day Bike Fest, area police departments are putting final touches on their plans to keep both residents and visitors safe in the North Strand.

The North Myrtle Beach City Council discussed a resolution Monday night at a regularly scheduled meeting that would approve a mutual aid agreement for North Augusta Police to assist in patrolling Memorial Day Bike Fest.

Monday night, that arrangement was tabled, due to North Augusta Police not being able to provide the officers because of their own needs.

The event, according to town officials in Atlantic Beach, is expected to draw more than 300,000 people to the coastal town.

If Monday's resolution had passed, four bike officers would have joined the ranks of the North Myrtle Beach Public Safety Department to help patrol during the event that runs through May 30. North Myrtle Beach Public Safety Director says his officers will help with traffic and crowd control during the event.

"Memorial Day Bike Week is focused in Atlantic Beach, so that truly is in our backyard," Fernandez said. "[It's] in the middle of our city, so that impacts us a little bit more."

North Augusta was one of six total agencies the North Myrtle Beach Public Safety Department is looking to for help during Bike Fest. Other agencies being tapped include:

  • North Charleston Police Department - 2 officers
  • Conway Police Department - 2 officers
  • Horry County Sheriff's Office - 4 officers
  • Horry County Police Department - 6 officers
  • South Carolina National Guard - 4 officers

While North Myrtle Beach and mutual aid officers are patrolling on the ground, Fernandez says the South Carolina National Guard will be getting a bird's eye view of the rally from a number of helicopters.

Fernandez says the helicopters will be used this year to pinpoint traffic and crowd troubles. He adds the helicopters will help the department better utilize its resources to make sure visitors and residents aren't sitting in traffic congestion.

"What better view can you have from the top looking down?" he asked. "It's a whole other perspective and it's just an excellent, excellent resource. We're very thankful that they've offered to help us and come."

Officials expect some bikers to begin trickling towards the North Strand on Sunday. The majority of bikers are expected to hit the North Strand next Wednesday and Thursday.

When asked what type of crime officers are expecting to face, Fernandez says officers will most likely end up writing tickets for minor offenses. He says he expects a few arrests to occur, but nothing stemming from violent crime.

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