Some Galveston lifeguards now armed with guns

August 4, 2012 5:00:36 AM PDT
The next time you're on the Galveston seawall or beach, the life lifeguard's uniform might look a little different. That's because they are now equipped with a badge and a gun. Their aim to keep the area clean and safe.

Galveston Island, the place we go to sit in the waves with a cold beverage and relax. Well now there is extra protection for those letting their guard down. The lifeguards are carrying more than rescue tubes.

"It's taken on a different angle when we have the badge and the gun to back it up," said Josh Hale, a supervisor with the Peace Officer Galveston Island Beach Patrol.

Last February, eight of Galveston Island's 100 Beach Patrol lifeguards became certified peace officers. Their focus meet and greet tourist and enforce minor city codes on the seawall and beach.

"Making sure there is no glass, alcohol. Dogs are kept on leashes, people aren't littering all over the place -- things of that nature," Hale said.

"We've had 8,000 or so enforcement actions put out there. That doesn't mean citations, but 'Sir can you put that beer away?' and if they don't comply then we would come back and step it up a little bit," Galveston Island Beach Patrol Chief Peter Davis said.

The badge and gun on the beach surprises some, but no one is complaining.

"Any help that are good police force can have is a good thing; extra eyes are always good," one tourist told us.

And the armed beach patrol is doing just that, supplementing the Galveston Police Department. They even train with them.

"We want to augment what they are already doing and take care of some of these minor things that are happening on the beach, that they are not really able to address because they are doing more serious stuff," Davis said.

And the hope is that their presence keeps the serious stuff far from the beach, where families are just trying to get away.

"They think wow, not only did we have a good time on the beach but we also had people out there making sure it was clean and safe," Davis said.

Most of the time, they're on mountain bikes. And spend about 80 percent of their patrol on the seawall and the rest on the beach.


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