Volusia County Beach Safety union rep says agency is down 2 dozen officers

A spokesperson for the union that represents Volusia County Beach Safety said the agency has lost about two dozen officers with the busy beach season around the corner.

“We were already operating at historically low levels,” said Bryon White, spokesperson for the union that represents Beach Safety. “We’re really concerned.”

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White said the agency has lost dozens of officers following the passage of a bill last week. If signed into law, it would give the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office control of the county’s coast.

DeSantis hasn’t signed the bill yet, but the union says the possibility has already left them even more short-staffed ahead of its busy season.

Read: Beach safety, Volusia County sheriff differ on bills that would eliminate beach patrol

“We’ve lost now, as a result of this bill passing, around a third of our full-time staff and we were already operating at historically low levels, so we were operating at 10 percent of our total capacity,” White said.

White said this Mother’s Day weekend, nearly 300,000 people will be on New Smyrna Beach alone. But he said there will probably only be three staffed lifeguard towers on the whole 15-mile stretch.

Read: Erosion unearths remnants of 2nd shipwreck on Volusia County coast

With summer break beginning in the next couple of weeks and the busy season just around the corner, White has concerns about how the transition from beach safety to the sheriff’s office is being handled.

“There is a 6-7 week training period between now and when they come back on the beach,” he said. “Those seven weeks span our busiest times from Mother’s Day to Fourth of July weekend and we simply don’t know how we are going to make it work.”

Read: Looking for work? Volusia County hiring dozens of lifeguards as beach season ramps up

The Sheriff’s Office said it’s prepared to take over as soon as the governor signs the bill and that it’s working to hire and train beach safety officers.

In the meantime, deputies are helping to fill holes.

Families who frequent the beach say all they want is a staff that is fully trained to save people from the water.

A spokesperson from the county said they are working closely with the sheriff’s office to make the transition seamless.

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