For the first time since March, officers are back on the streets conducting traffic safety checkpoints.
The checkpoints, which are usually conducted monthly, target areas with a history of traffic accidents or violations.
The checkpoint Saturday night on U.S. 501 in Myrtle Beach was on target based on history and the upcoming holiday, said Lt. George Johnson of the Myrtle Beach Police Department.
"Honestly, the holidays are some of the most dangerous times on the roadways," he said. "Those weekends from November 16 to the 29 are the target weekends where we look at for holiday drivers, people getting ready to get on the roadways for the holiday season."
Johnson added that these checkpoints are a way to help "get safety back in the minds" of those drivers who are out and about on the weekend or traveling for the holidays.
The checkpoint Saturday was on U.S. 501 between Seaboard Street and Robert M. Grissom Parkway. Johnson says this was done strategically.
"When we took the statistics throughout the entire city, that was one of the areas that has some of the highest statistics for either traffics stops or crashes," Johnson said.
According to statistics from MBPD, there were 94 crashes with two fatalities last year in the general area of the checkpoint on Saturday.
"Taking all that into consideration, it was a prime target for us," Johnson said.
Saturday's checkpoint was the first one conducted since March due to the pandemic.
"This is the first time that we are actually trying to get back and try to see what we have," Johnson said. "Tonight is going to be our first chance to dip our toes back into this water and to see how we're able to do it, how much manpower we're able to get for it, and if we are able to do these functions."
A total of 51 uniformed officers from 11 different agencies participated in the checkpoint, checking licenses and ensuring that no illegal activity was going on. Two K-9s, Sif from Surfside Beach Police and Yep from Myrtle Beach Police, also worked the checkpoint.
According to Johnson, no officers on duty Saturday night were receiving overtime pay. Officers that took part in the checkpoint were already scheduled to work that particular shift or had made necessary arrangements to "swap out time".
Johnson noted that doing these checkpoints have proven to be "statistically better" than trying to catch drunk drivers the old fashion way by placing a police cruiser in the median.
"We're able to stop not just every third car, every second car, or a violation car. We stop every car that comes through the checkpoint," Johnson said. "You are getting a sampling of everyone coming into the city."
Johnson added that these checkpoints are more so about public safety rather than intimidation.
"Public safety is always a shared responsibility," Johnson said. "We are just trying to get out there and get into [driver's] minds that we want them to think safely and make sure that they have all their documents with them. That's our prime goal Saturday night."
In roughly three hours, officers handed out 54 citations. Of those 54 citations, there was one driving under the influence, two illegal alcohol cases, two illegal drug cases and two child restraint violations.
Officers arrested 13 people total and had 11 vehicles towed.