We lost the Neighborhood Watch program, and now there are no programs to educate citizens. CMPD is down to 139 officers, from 163 in 2007. They expect at least 10 experienced and highly trained officers to leave.
It is hard to deny that crime is up in our city and will most likely get worse with fewer safety components in place. There was no significant gang activity in years, and now suddenly shootings and stabbings within weeks. Safety should never be compromised.
I know the council members have a tough job ahead of them, but I urge them not to cut any police positions. If safety for you and your family is important, I ask you to stand and let the council hear your voice. This is our city and we need to keep it a safe place to raise our families. They deserve it.
Surfers save swimmers, too
Cutting lifeguards during the off-season beckons the argument of jeopardizing safety along miles of beaches.
While having full-time guards patrolling the beach would be ideal, there are unsung guards in Newport dating back to the 1970s. My first recollection was around 1972 when a young surfer, Mark Schmidt, rescued a swimmer off the 36th Street jetty.
No lifeguards were around. A nice southwest swell in early spring swept an unsuspecting swimmer into danger. Mark paddled over, offered his board, a calming voice and brought the swimmer to safety.
This story has been repeated over and over by many Newport surfers during the next 38 years. It's a calculation the lifeguards don't post, but should be clearly recognized. Surfers save swimmers year in and year out. In most cases, the surfers, bodyboarders and bodysurfers are in a much better position to spot troubled swimmers and able to act much quicker than lifeguards in towers or the trucks.
I'm not saying the luck and timing of locals will replace our valued guards. I'm saying we can continue to maintain awareness of everybody in the water, and keep an eye out for troubled situations.
Thanks to these unsung heroes, and keep up the great work.