City drafts standard procedures for events on Tybee Island

City drafts standard procedures for events on Tybee Island

TYBEE ISLAND, GA (WTOC) - The college spring break event known as "Orange Crush" is still months away but Tybee Island officials are already aggressively planning and coordinating new tactics to make the event safer this year.

City leaders want these plans to become standard operating procedures for any "big" event, because now they don't have an umbrella plan for major events like Orange Crush, 4th of July, even Pirate Fest.

Tybee Island's Public Safety Committee met Thursday morning to discuss efforts they plan to implement this year.

This includes restricting traffic in certain areas. Police will use tag readers on cars coming onto the island and will set up a checkpoint for drivers leaving the island.

The police department is also reserving the pier this year for law enforcement agencies to set up recruiting tables. This will boost police presence on the pier and it also serves as a positive opportunity for someone who may need a job.

But despite these efforts, some residents are disappointed that the event is still able to happen especially after last year's shooting.

"You can't get in your car and go to the little grocery store we have. And getting on and off the island is just, it's an inconvenience. But the hostility, I wouldn't dare go walk on the beach because there are so many trouble makers that are in the midst of a lot of good people," said Jerry Reeves, Tybee Island.

Tybee Police Chief Robert Bryson says he's not nearly as worried about the alcohol as he is about guns and drugs.

Despite safety efforts last year with nearly 100 officers on duty, the craziness still escalated into a shooting that injured one person. Police are trying to figure out how aggressive they can be without breaking the law themselves.

"We have a lot of guns out here and we have a lot people possessing guns with permits," said Chief Bryson.

And believe it or not, if police see someone carrying a weapon they can't ask to see their permit without probable cause.

"It's not just something that we can walk up to them and question them about their gun solely by itself. If there's other events that are of interest to law enforcement, then we can go further into the gun," said Chief Bryson.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed off on these changes to the law two years ago, which means someone could be carrying a gun illegally and get away with it, unless they act outside of the law or police have probable cause. A scary reality for many.

"I think you should be able to be approached anytime for the safety of everybody that is in your presence," said Reeves.

Reeves and his wife plan to be out of town during Orange Crush this year, avoiding the crowds and any potential dangers.  Despite many folks who wish it could be banned, it's a public beach, so their hands are tied but police say they've been working around the clock to prepare for any type of situation.

"As a police department, we started planning the day after the last orange crush occurred," said Chief Bryson.

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