Earlier this month, the Town of North Hempstead unveiled its newest harbor patrol boat. North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jennifer DeSena and Councilmembers Peter Zuckerman, Veronica Lurvey, and Mariann Dalimonte joined together with the Town’s Department of Public Safety to present the new boat.
The new boat is 29 feet long with state-of-the-art GPS, mapping capabilities and thermal imaging. The boat will be used to patrol and protect Manhasset Bay, Hempstead Harbor, Little Neck Bay and parts of the Long Island Sound.
In 2021, under former Supervisor Judi Bosworth, the town was awarded $20,991 in funding as part of FEMA’s Port Security Grant program that helped secure this boat for the town. According to a press release from the town, “FEMA’s Port Security Grant Program provides funding to state, local and private-sector partners to help protect maritime security. Funding from the Port Security Grant Program in the past fiscal year totaled $100,000,000 nationwide.”
“The Town of North Hempstead takes boater safety seriously,” said Councilmember Dalimonte. “We are extremely grateful to FEMA for partially funding our new state-of-the-art rescue boat, which will undoubtedly prove to be an invaluable resource for our Bay Constables and Public Safety Department.”
The harbor patrol boat patrols the waters to enforce navigation laws, promote boater safety and respond to issues such as drowning, upsidedown boats and drinking and driving. The harbor patrol is available 24/7 to patrol and respond to emergency calls, which can be made on boat radios, channel 16. The harbor boat patrol assists Nassau County, the United States Coast Guard New York Sector, and other local townships and cities.
At least two trained and certified bay constables are on the harbor patrol boat.
“To be a bay constable, first of all, you have to be approved by captains of the service. So they have to approve your qualifications,” explained Shawn Brown, Commissioner of the town’s Department of Public Safety. “The vast majority of our bay constables are law enforcement, either from New York City Police Department, Nassau County or Suffolk County Police Departments, or Port Authority. They all have law enforcement backgrounds. They’re all peace officers. So they have gone through the training required by New York State to be a peace officer.”
The bay constables have two years of boating experience as required by the Civil Service and the boating safety certificate. They also have arrest powers in cases where a boater is breaking boating laws, such as operating a boat under the influence.
“These are all seasoned law enforcement officials who have experience with detaining and enforcing all kinds of laws, not just waterfront laws, but laws that apply in the land as well,” said Brown.
While people may think DUI rules are just for operating vehicles on land, the same rules are enforced on the water. It may be common to take the boat out on the water and have a few drinks, but the boat’s operator still has to behave accordingly to code.
“The boats become weapons when you can’t control the vessel. So it’s for the health and safety of the public that the DUI rules are reinforced on the waterfront,” said Brown.
Other laws and rules enforced by the harbor patrol include no jet skis to be used at night for the operator’s safety and that the boat has the proper amount of life jackets on board for the allowed amount of people. Each boat manufacturer has a limit as to how many people are permitted on the boat at a time based on the size of the boat and the weight of occupants.
In addition to the new harbor patrol boat, Commissioner Brown and Deputy Commissioner of Public Safety Mark Albarano remind residents that the town has a pump-out boat in addition to pump-out stations, such as the station available at the Town Dock.
“Not all harbor patrol units have a pump-out boat. So we provide this service. We will bring the pump-out to you. You can pump out of the town dock or you can call and the pump-out boat will come to your boat,” said Brown. “That’s an environmental initiative that we’re very concerned about. It’s very important that waste is disposed of correctly. We don’t want to put it in the water and contaminate the water. Our Manhasset Bay and Hempstead Harbor have been getting cleaner every year.”
With the rehabilitation of oysters in Manhasset Bay in a project spearheaded by Councilwoman Dalimonte with the help of the town and the Manhasset Bay Protection Committee, keeping the water healthy for the oysters to grow is very important.
“Part of the ocean initiative is to make sure the water gets cleaner and having the appropriate fleet of boats, like the pump-out boat, is so important to the environment and provides a great service to our boaters and waterfront community,” said Albarano.
To learn more about boating safety and harbor patrol, visit North Hempstead’s website (northhempsteadny.gov) and visit the Department of Public Safety’s Division of Harbor Patrol and Marine Enforcement page.