Folly Beach Council considering loitering law

Folly Beach Council considering loitering law

FOLLY BEACH, SC (WCSC) - A loitering law could be coming to Folly Beach as early as next month.

The town's Chief of Public Safety says it's an ordinance to help reduce crime.

"I think it should be passed because a lot of things are being stolen, a lot of people are being offended," said Joel Longenecker, a Folly Beach resident.

He supports a loitering Law, because he believes it will help cut back crime.

In the draft ordinance of the law loitering is described as to linger on public or private property without a just cause.

"When that person has a yard he shouldn't have to worry about people coming into that yard and getting bikes stolen," Longenecker said. "I've had five bikes stolen."

The law was proposed by the Folly Beach Chief of Public Safety Andrew Gilreath.  He says they deal with repeat loitering offenders, many who have been cited or arrested for things like assault, harassment, theft, narcotics, and trespassing.

"It allows our public safety department as part of their efforts and community and proactive policing to be a little bit more proactive about some of the repeat crimes that we've been seeing," said Spencer Wetmore, the city administrator.

Town officials say it's nothing for typical beach goers to be concerned about.

"We are at the beach we certainly expect everyone to come and sit at the beach and have a good time, that's not what this is about," Wetmore said. "This is about giving public safety officers the opportunity to approach somebody who maybe causing suspicion or alarm."

As part of the draft ordinance, when officers approach people about loitering, they will be given the opportunity to explain themselves.

Some residents have mixed views on the proposed law, like George Kontos.

"I support anything that prevents crime on the beach, but I think they're going a bit overboard," Kontos said.

If the law passes offenders could face a fine, up to 30 days in jail or what the Chief believes could be most effective, a court order preventing someone from going on the property they've been caught loitering on.

Folly Beach Town officials say this proposed loitering law would be similar to the law in the City of Charleston. Summerville, Sullivan's Island and the Isle of Palms also have laws for loitering.

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