Guarding the guards

As you cross over the Balboa Island bridge, a sign informs you that the Newport Beach Junior Lifeguards Program has begun, so please watch out for them and exercise care when you see them – often on their bikes – (they are easy to spot with their bright red trunks!).

This summer, the Newport Beach Police Department’s (NBPD) Traffic Division and dedicated volunteers, known as Volunteers in Policing (VIPs) are assisting the Newport Beach Junior Lifeguard Program to ensure that all participants arrive safely at their destination, along with overseeing pedestrian and vehicle safety, as traffic increases during the busy summer months.

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Courtesy of NBPD

NBPD Sgt. Steve Oberon (far left) and fellow NBPD Officers with Volunteers in Policing Officers strike a pose with several of this year’s Jr. Lifeguards. Joining them are City Councilmember Robyn Grant (second from left) and Nancy Scarbrough, an activist in local politics, (sixth from right).

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Courtesy of NBPD

NBPD Sgt. Steve Oberon (back row, second from left) and fellow NBPD Officers with Volunteers in Policing Officers gather at the iconic “Welcome to Balboa Island” sign

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Photo by Laird Hayes

NBPD Volunteers in Policing Officers – (L-R): Kathleen Madokoro, Joel Gerson and Maggie Hayes

The Jr. Guard program which began on June 18, has brought out NBPD volunteers and officers from different divisions to assist the Jr. Guards, ensuring their safety and well-being. Noteworthy is that this year, 1,400+ youth enrolled in two sessions (morning and afternoon) to learn water safety and lifeguarding skills.

Because there are 100+ Jr. Guards per session riding the ferry back and forth between the Island and the Peninsula daily, the NBPD (two motor officers) and VIPs have been deployed, assisted by the Lifeguards, Nate Capra at the Balboa Ferry and the NB Fire Department. Up to five VIPs assist each shift, Monday through Thursday from 8-9 a.m. (for the morning session) and 12-1 p.m. (for the afternoon session).

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Photo by Laird Hayes

NBPD Motor Officer Zach Varela and NBPD Volunteers in Policing Officer Pam Parker with Jr. Lifeguards getting ready to board

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Photo by Laird Hayes

Jr. Lifeguards boarding the ferry, many with bikes in tow

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Photo by Laird Hayes

Jr. Lifeguards riding the Captain ferry as it heads for Balboa Peninsula

According to NBPD Sgt. Steve Oberon, “The VIPs are stationed on Balboa Island and mostly monitor Agate Avenue. They help make sure the drop-offs and pick-ups go smoothly and remind the kids on bikes about the rules of the road.”

The VIPs, who have been providing this service for at least 14 years, have five positions: two assist with pedestrian traffic, one helps with vehicles in the area and two assist with passengers lining up on each side of the ferry.

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Photo by Laird Hayes

NBPD Volunteers in Policing Officers at the end of the 12-1 p.m. shift – (L-R): Laird Hayes, Kathleen Madokoro, Joel Gerson and Maggie Hayes

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Photo by Laird Hayes

Balboa Island Ferry Manager Captain Nate Capra with NBPD Volunteers in Policing Officer Maggie Hayes

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Photo by Laird Hayes

NBPD Volunteers in Policing Officers – (L-R): Rodica Iova, Joel Gerson and Kathleen Madokoro

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Photo by Laird Hayes

NBPD Volunteers in Policing Officers – (L-R): Maggie Hayes, Marcia Strack and Sandy Meadows

“The NBPD Traffic Division and our dedicated volunteers are committed to ensuring the safety and smooth operation of the Junior Lifeguard Program throughout the summer,” said Heather Rangel, NBPD crime investigation specialist. “Our volunteers play a crucial role in this effort, taking on a variety of responsibilities to help participants and community members navigate the busy area. Our department also analyzes the area and has posted sign boards and temporary signs throughout the Island with additional information to keep everyone safe.”

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Photo by Laird Hayes

Jr. Lifeguards riding the Admiral ferry toward the Fun Zone

So, if you spot our Jr. Guards around town…please remember to courteously share the road (or ferry).


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