HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) – A newly released survey from the United Way of Horry County suggests the majority of those surveyed are concerned about a “lack of police presence and positive community engagement.”

Below is list of community concerns explained in the survey as it relates to law enforcement and community safety:

43% of those surveyed believe it is an unsafe community

67% stated a lack of police presence and positive community engagement are concerning

63% expressed that juvenile delinquency and gang prevention is a concern

According to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division’s crime report for 2020, the number of murder, kidnapping and vandalism cases were up across Horry County from the year prior. Robbery and theft cases were down.

However, in Loris, the number of major crimes in 2020 was lower than the previous year. But, police Chief Gary Buley said, that doesn’t mean the community automatically puts more trust in officers, so community engagement is a constant focus.

“I tell my officers, even when we hire new officers, you see someone outside mowing their lawn or standing in their driveway, stop and talk,” he said. “That is where it starts. Engage with them. Let them know that you are there for them and you are there to help them.”

Officers switch patrols after a major incident.

“Every time we have an incident, we saturate that area and let them know we’re not going to tolerate it and the community appreciates it more than its shown.”

Below is a statement from the Myrtle Beach Police Department addressing the concerns noted in the survey.

“Our mission is to enhance the quality of life through community partnerships and public safety. We are grateful that the presence of officers in our community makes our residents and visitors feel safer. We are working hard to recruit and retain the best officers to provide the exceptional police service that the Myrtle Beach community expects.  As a city are also involved in community programs with our partners at United Way in the Boys and Girls Club and through our annual fundraising campaign.  The police department has outreach programs for our youth and with community organizations to build and maintain our strong relationships.  We are also working with local resources to help organize outreach to help those in need and suffering from addiction.    We welcome input from our community and keep open communication through our neighborhood watch groups and community organizations.  We want everyone who lives, works, or visits Myrtle Beach to feel safe and welcome in our community.  We are accepting applications right now to be part of this team and encourage anyone who wants to serve their community to join us!” 

To review the United Way of Horry County’s study, click here.

To review SLED’s annual crime report, click here.