Respondents for Horry County survey focus on safety issues

Respondents for Horry County survey focus on safety issues

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Horry County is using your feedback to improve your quality of life. A recent survey is shaping the future of the area.

The National Citizen Survey went to more than 3,000 households in Horry County and about a quarter sent back a response. The results will be used during strategic planning in the coming years.

The feedback gives the county an idea of how it's serving you, and gauges perceptions of the area to make comparisons with other counties and cities.

"That's a big deal from the county, asking the residents to give their opinions, the business owners like myself, to give their opinions of what they think the county should be doing and focusing on," Owner of Coastal Holistics Summer Mueller said.

The surveys focused on eight areas: Safety, Mobility, Natural Environment, Built Environment, Economy, Recreation and Wellness, Education and Enrichment and Community Engagement.

While 78 percent of the people polled rated the quality of life in Horry County excellent or good, areas of focus were safety, mobility and the economy. Only about half of the people find it easy to travel here, and about three-quarters of those who responded wanted more employment opportunities.

According to survey results, residents especially appreciated shopping in the area and believe the county is a great place to visit. These ratings were higher than other communities in the U.S.

Horry County's safety ratings are positive, but show room for improvement.

Nearly 90 percent surveyed say they feel safe in their neighborhoods and at least seven in ten people feel positive towards our first responders. Additionally, over eight in ten reported that they had not been the victim of a crime and close to three-quarters of respondents had not reported a crime; however, when it comes to the overall feeling of safety, that number didn't even make it to 50 percent.

"The big crime is scary, the big crime tends to be the violent crime, the robberies the shootings and we have a significant number of those things happening all the time," Horry County Police Lt. Raul Denis said.

Which is why Lt. Denis said the department has specialized and undercover officers, a gang unit, added detectives, which is about 270 police on the street.

"We want to make sure our citizens feel safe and know that their safe," Lt. Denis said.

He admits, it's hard keeping up with our community which is growing so fast. He believes as the population grows, incidents of crime go up.

Lt. Denis says the perception of crime can be just as bad, or even worse as crime itself.

"The fact that we're so transparent about our activities makes people aware, whereas before they may not have been aware that we had an armed robbery happening once a week or something of that nature," he said.

Keeping you in the know is important to tackling crime as a community, and community policing is going to keep us safe.

"We can't be everywhere at once, so don't be afraid to call the police if you see something," Lt. Denis said. "Don't be afraid to share information with police if you think you know something."

Your voice can go a long way, and that's the goal of these surveys. The survey results will allow county council to prioritize issues, come up with goals and strategies, and then measure success in achieving these goals, overall to improve quality of life in our area.

Overall, most citizens would recommend living in Horry County and planned to remain for the next five years, according to survey results.

The county plans to prioritize strategic issues, and share them in January. From there, staff will narrow down the plan to specific goals and strategies performance metrics will be tracked and published to determine how successful we are in achieving the established goals.

The survey costs $18,639, according to Tim Van Pelt with the Horry County Administrator's office.

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