Well, my 14th Spring Break is in the books, and looking back over the past couple of weeks, there are a few takeaways that I want to share with you.
Did you know that you can get at least eight teen-aged girls in one Skid-O-Kan? As I was driving past one of the port-a-cans just south of Beach Access Road 1, I saw a young lady exit one of the doors, which of course is not unusual. About one second later another came out of the same door, which piqued my curiosity. I stopped and watched as a third young girl popped through the door and then another, and another, until a total of eight finally exited the one-hole port-a-can turned-clown car.
Judging from the theme of the vast majority of the political flags on the beach, there is not a lot of support for our current presidential administration, but our visitors really had disdain for some poor guy named Brandon.
My first few years here, I noticed that a lot of older adults would set up in large groups just outside the Skid- O-Kans near the party areas. Being a seasoned, cynical cop, I just assumed that they were a bunch of dirty old men watching the bikini-clad college girls as they made their trek for some restroom privacy. But now that I have crossed the threshold into senior citizenry, and my prostate is fix’n to celebrate it’s sixty-third birthday, I have a whole new appreciation for the importance of proximity to the urinal.
I can’t say thank you enough to all of the local citizen volunteers and businesses that took the time to feed our crews every night of Spring Break. Despite the overcrowded restaurants and convenience stores, our first responders had a warm meal and a quiet table to decompress, even if it was for only a few minutes.
However, my favorite takeaways from Spring Break are watching and listening to the men and women serving this city as first responders. The most underappreciated group are our dispatchers. This group of professionals dealt with calls ranging from a 17-year-old pregnant mother that was having a stroke, to drug overdoses, fights, family disturbances, major and minor traffic wrecks, complaints about traffic congestion, golf carts on the highway and parking violations. They answered each incoming call and calmed callers that were panicked, scared, angry, frustrated, irritated, or confused. They questioned the callers to determine the nature of their concern and the appropriate resources necessary to handle each event. They did so calmly, professionally and appropriately.
While the phones were ringing off the hook, these same people juggled hundreds of radio transmissions from paramedics, firefighters and more than 40 cops from Port Aransas, Nueces County, Parks and Wildlife, Texas Highway Patrol and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, ranging from parking issues to golf carts to pursuits to felony traffic stops on armed thugs.
As for the officers? Well, I’ll tell you, the long hours, large crowds, loud music, flashing lights, constant chatter on the police radio and the seemingly endless interactions with the revelers creates a mind-numbing sensory overload that they have to work through. All of our folks worked more than a hundred hours during the past two weeks, some worked more than one hundred and sixty. Despite all of that, they maintained their professional presence and answered every call as a unique event.
They literally would have to go from working a parking complaint one minute and two minutes later they would be dealing with a carload of armed gang bangers. The next call might involve a theft that occurred two hours prior, and then they would roll up on seven or eight people fighting. They evaluated each situation and when they could fix the problem with a warning or ticket, that’s what they did, but on those hundred or so occasions when the problem could only be fixed by putting somebody in jail, they didn’t hesitate.
The greatest takeaway? As first responders, we couldn’t ask for a more supportive city; as a city, we couldn’t ask for a better group of first responders.