May 18, 2018 12:00 a.m.
Due to the length of the most recent City Commission meeting, I refrained from offering comments related to the City’s public safety personnel. I’ll share those comments here.
In memory of Chaplain Don McFadyen, the City Commission opened the meeting with a moment of silence. One of the scheduled proclamations for the evening was to formally recognize National Police Week (May 13) and Peace Officer Memorial Day (May 15). Chaplain McFadyen traditionally offered the invocation at this meeting, so to recognize and remember his service to the community in this manner was movingly appropriate.
Following Mayor Miller’s recitation of the proclamation, Deputy Chief Mark
Foxworth held the Commissioners, the staff, and the residents in awe as he recounted the daily challenges of our patrol officers (and patrol officers everywhere). As he indicated, patrol officers are unique in that very few other (if any) occupations require as part of the daily uniform a body camera and body armor.
I am blessed to be able to work with the women and men of the Fernandina Beach Police Department on a daily basis. They are extremely courteous and even more professional (even when Officer Mazuryk pulls over an unnamed soon-to-be City Manager for inoperable tail lights). I have ridden on late shifts with several officers, cheered them on at charity events, and witnessed their enthusiasm at the annual Shop with A Cop event. All of them are inspiring to be around.
Shortly to join the ranks of our Police Department are two newly trained officers: Officer Kyle Kenyon and Officer Zachary Leadingham. Both officers are scheduled to begin their service to the Fernandina Beach community on Monday. I look forward to welcoming those officers.
Also deserving of recognition are the members of the Police Auxiliary Corps and the additional support provided by the Fernandina Beach Police Foundation. Everyone associated with these two groups is a passionate volunteer.
In addition to recognizing the contributions of the Police Department, the Fire Department recently conducted promotional exams and several firefighters will be promoted.
Those to be promoted include Brad Richardson (Captain), Marcus Carter (Lieutenant), Chris French (Engineer), Daniel Hulett (Engineer), and James Tucker (Engineer). Congratulations to these gentlemen on their accomplishment and selection.
The members of the Fire Department are similarly professional and courteous as the members of the Police Department. Again, I am honored to work with such dedicated City staff. I thoroughly enjoy the infrequent time that I get to spend with them in the station or on the trucks.
As the traditional summer season begins, Fire Chief Silcox and Deputy Chief Murallo are readying the Ocean Rescue crews. Every year, dozens of lifeguards are hired to monitor our beaches. Many return for successive seasons. These lifeguards are faced with a variety of daily challenges, but, over the course of the last couple years, have maintained an unblemished record of drownings while on station. The lifeguards are recognized annually at a banquet, but the community thanks for their service go well beyond that simple meal.
Many challenges continue to be on the horizon for our public safety services. Service calls (reported monthly to the City Commissioners) are rising as our residents and visitors multiply. Another hurricane season is looming, meaning while most sane people evacuate the Island, nearly one hundred public safety personnel separate themselves from their families to remain as guardians.
Equipment is expansive and expensive and facilities are old. It will be necessary to study and review the public service capital needs as next year’s budget is crafted.
The men and women of the Police and Fire Departments are truly committed to the quality of life in our community. From the growing number of residents and visitors (and strongly supported by the recent Citizen Survey), they are doing an exceptional job.
Thank you for the leadership of Chief Hurley and Chief Silcox, the public safety personnel represent some of the best of Fernandina Beach. Well-done, ladies and gentlemen. Stay safe.