Commentary

printed 07/12/2019

The photo in the lower right corner of the front page this week is notable on two counts. One, it shows how difficult the Ocean City Beach Patrol’s job has become since the days years ago when its only concern was protecting people from an unpredictable ocean.

In more recent times, its duties have been split between watching over swimmers and waders and acting as a quasi-law enforcement unit that, while still keeping an eye on the water, also must deal with unpredictable beachgoers.

The photo, which is a frame extracted from a 27-second video recorded, we think, with a cell phone camera, hence its blurriness, shows just how unpredictable some beachgoers have become.

That begs the question: has the beach patrol’s pay scale kept up with the changing nature of the job? That’s something the Ocean City Council needs to consider in the next budget year.

Also to be pondered is whether lifesaving personnel should even be put in the position of having to confront unruly people on the beach. They train to swim and run for miles, but not, so far, how to put someone in a headlock should things get out of hand.

There’s no easy answer to that question, because relieving the beach patrol of its land-based, public safety responsibilities, would require a greater police presence in the sand at an expense much greater than what current budgetary constraints — and taxpayer sentiment — allow.

In addition, having to beef up beach security would be a sad commentary on how the public’s growing sense of self-entitlement and lack of respect for others has brought us to this unfortunate juncture.

As to the second notable point this photo makes, chances are the public would never have known about this scuffle were it not for the video sent anonymously to this paper via an untraceable email.

We don’t know who you are and don’t care, but thank you. We’re sure the beach patrol thanks you as well.

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