Several Grand Strand area communities will join with police Tuesday in celebrations that could help improve links between residents and officers.
National Night Out celebrations are planned for Tuesday in communities across the area, and some plan new approaches to the event.
Community Service Sgt. Darren Alston said he’s changing it up in the for Conway’s 15th year participating.
“I’m bringing all 39 crime watch groups in the city of Conway together for the first time so everybody can get to know one another,” he said.
For the first time since National Night Out was established 36 years ago, Horry County will host an event at the M.L. Brown Public Safety building on Main Street in Conway.
Several celebrations also are planned in Myrtle Beach, including a new one hosted by the Target on Seaboard Street, said Crime Prevention Officer Henry Bresdola.
“Every year its getting bigger,” Bresdola said. “This year we have 15 total, there were 12 or 13 last year. Back in 2012, there were 11.”
He said the event is a great way to meet community members that police may not normally see.
“While one night is certainly not an answer to crime, drugs and violence it puts a face with the police department,” he said. “Most of the time, people are getting a citation or they are a victim of a crime or their friend is getting arrested. This is on a friendly basis.”
Alston said the event is a chance for residents to speak casually with officers, and by bringing all the of the crime watch groups together this year he hopes the event helps strengthen the bond between community members who want to protect their home.
The relatively new Sammy Floyd Third Watch Group is thriving and helping to lower crime in the area which includes Conway’s Racepath community, Alston said.
“Things have slowed down there a whole lot,” he said. “It’s the community effort that’s doing it. There was something going on every week, just about every other day last year. It’s been quiet in that area. The crime watch group has taken a hold of that area, alerting me about anything going on so I can pass it on to officers on patrol.”
Bresdola said watch groups and community involvement also help police.
“I don’t know who belongs in your neighborhood,” he said. “A lot of these officers don’t know. We rely on the citizens or the neighbors to say this person is suspicious, or ‘My neighbor is out of town and this person shouldn’t be there.’ ”