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Northport Bay Constable
By Howard Brooks - Editor
For the past
15 years, Willie has been making sure that Northport Bay is a safe place for adults
and children to enjoy boating. From April through November of each year, he patrols
Northport waters to make certain that boaters practice "safe boating"
by maintaining speed limits and complying with various water safety and other
regulations, such as keeping boat registrations current, monitoring safe use of
Jet Skis, and ensuring that people practice safe water skiing.
his many duties, Willie makes certain that children 12 years and under wear life
jackets when on deck, and that they don't have their feet dangling over the side
of their boat when under way. He's also on the lookout for boaters who engage
in excessive drinking (BWI) that could have fatal consequences for all who travel
the bay waters.
Keeping people safe is nothing new for Willie, who has
served as a Volunteer on the Northport Fire Department for 38 years and also logged
28 years with the New York City Fire Department.
We asked Willie about
some of his routine duties, and he replied:
respond to life threatening and non life threating fires on boats, and breakdowns
where requested by 'first responders' such as the Fire Department or Coast Guard.
Essentially, if a fire or breakdown is reported to me I "stand by" until
the Fire Department or Coast Guard arrives...but if any lives are at immediate
risk, we are authorized to take immediate action to save a life. In the case of
all serious emergencies, the Police can start operations such as putting out a
life threatening fire using our on-board pump and hoses or extinguishers. My first
priority in any dangerous situation is saving lives and getting people off of
their boat to keep them safe."
The jurisdiction of the Bay Constable is 1500 feet out from the Village Of
Northport, however, if called upon by the Coast Guard or any Police Department,
Willie will respond and assist.
During a recent on-board tour with Willie,
he recounted some of his enforcement experiences:
had responded to a call where a boater had a heart attack while under way. With
the assistance of the Coast Guard, I transported the patient to the Northport
"On another occasion, I was asked to stop a "speeder"
who was driving a super charged Cigarette at the 5 mile bouy. There were
2 guys and a girl on board. When they saw me, they slowed down, and
when I approached them the girl noticed that I did not carry a firearm, so she
advised the guys of this and they became "excessively aggressive", to
the point where I had to back off until the Suffolk County Police came on the
scene. I doubt they would have treated me like that if they saw
that I was armed."
was somewhat surprised that a man who must place himself in harm's way is not
able to carry a firearm as a "deterrent" in the event of an eminent
threat to the life of a boater or Willie by an armed or otherwise dangerous person. While
it is not my place to make judgement calls like this, I would feel better if our
Constable was armed.
I observed first hand from my tour with Willie is that he's a very decent man
who cares deeply about all people, and is dedicated to helping them remain safe
throughout the year, on or off the waters.
BRAVO Willie, keep
up the good work, and my personal thanks for keeping my own boating family safe. Nice
to know you're out there watching.