- Associated Press - Monday, September 22, 2014

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) - Law enforcement officers from the East Coast and Texas are meeting with local authorities in Myrtle Beach to discuss handling security during big events like the Memorial Day weekend Atlantic Beach Bikefest.

Local news outlets report the two-day, closed-door session getting underway Monday is being attended by 80 police officers. Myrtle Beach Police Chief Warren Gall organized the session and says he hopes to hear ideas that will be useful on the Grand Strand.

Three people were killed and seven wounded in shootings last Memorial Day weekend in communities outside Atlantic Beach during the long weekend. Officials have been working on a safety plan.

Discussions during this week’s meeting will include how Miami handles its Memorial Day weekend event called Urban Beach Week and how Atlanta effectively ended the Freaknik spring break event held there in the 1990s.

“I think we’re going to hear some good ideas on what will work,” Gall told The Sun News of Myrtle Beach. “Not only from a strategic standpoint, but also from a community standpoint.”

He said the crowd control and security issues arising from the weekend in which tens of thousands of people descend on the area for the Bikefest, Military Appreciation Days and the first long weekend of the summer season won’t be solved simply by law enforcement.

“It’s going to be more of a community effort. Arresting our way out of this is not going to solve it,” he said.

One proposal for next Memorial Day is a 40-mile, one-way loop to control crowds and traffic.

Under the proposal, traffic would be directed south on Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach and then west to the Carolina Bays Parkway. Drivers would have to then drive north to North Myrtle Beach before again heading south on U.S. 17.

The loop, which takes about an hour to drive during normal traffic, would be in effect between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. each night during the weekend.

Myrtle Beach City Manager Tom Leath says hearing from agencies in other cities that deal with similar events will help Grand Strand officials adjust their proposed safety plan.


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