Law enforcement preps for summer’s last hurrah

by Cole Dittmer
Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Lumina News file photo 

Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue responds to an emergency on Labor Day, Sept. 3, 2012. 

With one final summer holiday left in the 2013 tourist season, Wrightsville Beach Police Chief Dan House said he hopes the Labor Day weekend will come and go with no issues for the town. 

“Based on years past it just hasn’t been a crazy holiday like either the Fourth of July or Memorial Day,” House said. “We ramp [coverage] up just a little bit because we know people are going to come to the beach as a last hurrah since school started.”

Rather than his main concern being the beach crowds, House said he thinks more issues will arise during the nightlife hours because students from the University of North Carolina Wilmington have returned for the year. 

“That is when we usually get complaints from the residents around Henderson, Oxford, Greensboro, Seagull and Bahama where there tends to be a lot of rentals,” House said. 

In looking back at the summer season, House said the WBPD was unsure about how the town’s new smoking ban would work out.

“The smoking ban has gone very well,” House said. “Most people are just complying, which is great … that hasn’t been the major issue we thought it was going to be.”

Turning to action in the water, Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue captain Jeremy Owens said the lifeguard team has had a good summer. 

“It has been a great summer, we have had a few incidents but everything has come out good,” Owens said. “We have had a great team this year with how they performed on the beach daily and how they performed by winning the USLA Southeast Regional Championship.”

Labor Day weekend will mark the last weekend with a full WBOR staff and Owens said only four stands will be manned daily after Monday, Sept. 2. Roving patrols will continue as well. 

“We do have the potential for some surf that we can get this time of year from storms so we keep a skeleton crew out here on the beach and will still be patrolling through September and October,” Owens said. 

While the WBPD has seen less action during Labor Day weekend as compared to the Fourth of July, North Carolina Wildlife Resource Officer Fred Gorchess said the Labor Day weekend is one of the busiest for boat traffic. 

“I would say, between Labor Day and the Fourth, I’d give Labor Day the nod as far as boat traffic,” Gorchess said. “People try to extend the summer as far as they can.”

Gorchess said the NCWRC officers will be looking for boating violations on the water and watching for hunting violations as dove season also opens on Labor Day. Some dove hunters frequent the dredge spoil islands along the Intracoastal Waterway north and south of Wrightsville Beach but Gorchess said there are rarely any issues. 

Following the Labor Day weekend Gorchess said he would still be on patrol in the waterways but that the NCWRC officers would be spread out around the district because deer hunting season also begins the weekend following Labor Day. 

Petty Officer Royal with the United States Coast Guard Station Wrightsville Beach said the USCG would have random patrols out during the day and night in addition to the NCWRC patrols. Royal said the patrols would be ready to respond to any search and rescue missions as well as law enforcement issues. 

“We are out there to get people early in the day to ensure that everyone is being safe,” Royal said. 


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