Tybee Police chief pushing for more beach patrol officers - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Tybee Police chief pushing for more beach patrol officers

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)
TYBEE ISLAND, GA (WTOC) -

The Tybee Island Police chief said his department is understaffed. Now, he is asking the city council for the money to bring more officers on board.

Police say some of their patrol officers are being stretched thin because of the growing number of people visiting the island as Tybee moves toward being a 365-day destination.

“It’s starting earlier and earlier every year. We’ve been going full speed for about the last month and a half as far as people coming to the beach and traffic count-wise,” said Sergeant Eddie Dicus, with the Tybee Island Police Department.

And the numbers agree. For example, let’s look at the month of March over just the past few years. The number of arrest, traffic tickets and dispatch calls on Tybee have all increased by nearly a time-and-a-half year over year.

That’s why the police chief is asking the city council to approve funding for five new full-time officers who would focus on patrolling the beach and the bars. Businesses have been asking for more patrols to deal with drunken fights and other problems around closing time.

“And with that many more police officers patrolling, then we’ll be able to get a better handle on that, I think,” said Tybee Island City Councilwoman Wanda Doyle.

Often times, street patrol officers are having to respond to beach issues, but there simply are not enough of them to handle all those calls.

“A lot of times, they just have to wait until those street units are cleared up from the street calls, so they can go out to the beach,” said Sgt. Dicus. “Unless it’s an emergency, they have to wait.”

Sgt. Dicus oversees beach patrols. He says these new positions would do away with the current part-time officers and create more consistency when it comes to beach enforcement.

“Now we’ll have dedicated guys that can actually go out there and dedicate time, and these will be the same guys every day,” said Sgt. Dicus.

“Public safety is our number one, we have to keep people safe,” said Doyle, who chairs the city’s public safety committee. She’s confident the city council will approve the $270,000 budget line to hire the new officers.

“It’s a big investment, but I think in the long run, it’s going to be better for public safety and for the community itself,” Doyle said.

We’ll know if the funding for those new hires is finalized by the end of the month. The city council will meet two more times before approving the budget by the July 1 deadline.

The following shows the number of service calls/incidents for the Tybee Island Police Department in 2014 and 2015: 


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