Law enforcement stepped up their game and cracked down on violators at Folly Beach over the July 4th weekend.
Police issued more than $26,000 in fines for bad behavior on the beach, such as littering and underage drinking, over the course of the long weekend.
Mike Jackson, special operations coordinator with the Folly Beach Police Department, said police took a zero-tolerance approach over Memorial Day weekend and issued over $95,000 in fines, and as a result people seemed more aware of the rules during the July 4th weekend. Since fewer violations occurred, Jackson said he feels the police made clear what they would and would not tolerate.
"It was a huge success," Jackson said. "We've done a lot better than last year's July 4th."
There still were many complaints Sunday about littering and other violations on the 10th block on the east side of the beach, but Jackson said that the officers did a good job.
Jackson was in charge of "Operation Safe 4th," which concentrated on keeping the peace in the community while combating the littering and any nuisances.
"I don't just send random people out to the beach without a plan," he said. "When we work, we always have something specific we wish to accomplish."
Since Folly Beach allows alcohol on the beach, police officers were on the look-out for underage drinking and forbidden containers (plastic cups are allowed, bottles are not). Police patrolled in cars, on foot and on all-terrain vehicles.
"The enforcement action we took was very similar to how we ran it for Memorial Day," Jackson said.
Jackson said Folly Beach and other police agencies also set up a traffic checkpoint, so that anyone heading to or from the beach late Saturday night had to pass through.
"On the night of July third, over 30 officers were out (on Folly Road) near
Bowen's Island checking for impaired drivers from 11:30 p.m. to 3:00 a.m.," he said.
Nearly 35 tickets were given, and about seven DUI arrests were made that night.
"We got traffic out of the beach on record timing, for it usually takes us more than two hours," Jackson said. "We did it in probably 30 minutes."Folly Beach Mayor Tim Goodwin was on the beach Monday and said the officers did a good job. "Even though the 10th block was a problem, it was a lot better than last year," Goodwin said. "Our enforcement has improved."
For Monday, the last day of the holiday weekend, Jackson had to write only a few tickets, mainly for open containers. "If they try to hide it, or if they have plastic cups and don't use them, then that means that they're familiar with our laws here so they should know better."
Jackson approached a man who had a glass bottle in plain sight, but since he was from New York, Jackson gave him just a warning. However he was not as lenient on a group of young people who had cigarette butts littering the sand, empty beer cans and marijuana. "You probably didn't see them, but I saw them hiding it when we were 25 yards away from them," Jackson said.
He said he was being fair because he could have taken them to jail but instead he just gave them two tickets each valued at $1,092 for littering and a misdemeanor. Jackson said that despite the large amount of fines distributed, it is not as if they just go around writing out tickets. "The charge of a ticket could be from anywhere from $100 to $1,092 depending on the circumstances, so they can quickly add up," he said.
"We're not writing tickets because we don't like you or you don't smell good, (it's) because you were in the wrong," he said. "Our overall goal is to keep people safe."