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Better Protection? Provide Safety

I always kinda snickered at the thought process that government needs to protect us from ourselves, but recently I can see the value in this thinking. But maybe there needs to be a different and expanded approach to this thinking, rather than just preventing people from doing something so they don’t get harmed.

On May 19 around 6 p.m. when all the concessions were excited about opening for the season, I went surfing on my new longboard on my block at Beach 96th Street. I paddled out, waited, caught my first wave that fizzled out near the exposed sticks.  Starting to paddle back out, I see two girls desperately clawing for life thirty yards out from the shore. One girl completely submerged grasping for anything, and her eyeballs as wide open as possible, while her large friend was leaning on her to keep her own mouth above water. With no one on the beach, in a panic, I rushed to them and dragged them onto my board in the super strong current, paddling/pushing them on my board sideways to get out of the current. Ten minutes later I got them to the beach and they walked away. Everyone on the beach still oblivious that two 16-year-old-girls were practically as good as dead had I not been so lucky to be there.

Then on Monday night another two people were rescued from drowning by a surfer and an NYPD officer,  William Lauria, 23, normally from 105th Precinct, but assigned a summer detail at the 100th Precinct. Again this happened after lifeguards were off duty. Lots of commotion with four firetrucks and at least eight cop cars. One of the victims wheeled off to an ambulance, and strangely enough, a women brought off the beach in handcuffs.

What baffles me (and I’m sure many other residents) is that we have this thing called daylight savings, so we can be outdoors longer and enjoy the daylight. That means doing things at the beach, you know, like swimming. Why else do you go to the beach 93-degree day? It is absolutely absurd to shut down a beach at 6 p.m. when there are so many people in the water, and expect them to obey archaic rules/laws to get out of the ocean on a mega hot day.

So instead of two or three Park Enforcement Patrol (PEP) officers driving ATVs up and down the shoreline, whistling people out of the water, all of whom will go straight back in once they leave, how about expanding the common sense thinking and protect these people by keeping a separate shift of lifeguards on duty until at least 8 p.m.?

You know they’re going in the water, stop neglecting people’s safety. It’s great when Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver said there hasn’t been any drownings on Rockaway’s beaches while lifeguards are on duty for the last three years. How about all the drownings when they’re not on duty? Protect the people, provide vigilance and safety, should they get in harm’s way.

I sure as hell know that not one of those PEP officers would go in to save someone.

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