Rehoboth Beach: Law and Order
One of the many services CAMP Rehoboth provides this beach community is an orientation for the police force working seasonally in Rehoboth Beach. Two “seasonals,” as they call themselves, recently gave me the opportunity to ask about their summer work. When asked for their recollection of the orientation back in April, these young gentlemen eagerly shared what they had learned.
The presentation, provided by Steve Elkins, covered a broad range of insight into keeping “Law and Order” in Rehoboth Beach. Gathering all the seasonals together in April, Steve shared with these young persons what to expect from their upcoming summer in our beach community. The message included an overview of the mix of straight and gay/lesbian population here. Above all, this is a town that nurtures its culture of diversity. The message articulated was: Don’t stereotype the gay and lesbian persons with whom you interact. The two segments not only co-exist in this bustling town, they also flourish as both business owners or visiting tourists.
It helps us to understand that these seasonal police officers are typically college students, laying the groundwork for a future career in law enforcement. Most have their eyes set on being a police officer, however one of the seasonals I interviewed is on his way to becoming a lawyer. Having a summer of police work on one’s resume helps advance a career path following graduation. They are assigned either to the bike patrol or foot patrol and have full arresting powers for misdemeanors. They are always supported by the full-time police force. The seasonals are not permitted to be engaged in answering alarms or assisting in felony arrests. The “D & D’s” are the most common offense that they face through the summer. That is, Drunk and Disorderly.
One of the more interesting insights the seasonals shared was working in this diverse town was not so out of the ordinary for them. This is reflective of their younger generation, in that their tolerance for—or rather their acceptance of—gays and lesbians is more pronounced than the generations preceding them. Both of the young men with whom I spoke, knowing in advance of the diverse nature of this beach town, looked forward to being part of the Law and Order in Rehoboth Beach.
Feeling foolish for even asking the question, I inquired if there was any difference in their patrol of the “straight” beach, vis-à-vis Poodle Beach or Whiskey Beach. The answer was a resounding “No.” They encounter the same offenses at all beaches, such as consumption of alcoholic beverages, smoking on the beach, and other minor infractions. The most common misnomer is that the seasonals have something to do with parking meter fines. A separate meter patrol handles those. One seasonal assured me they are not able to get their own parking tickets waived!
When asked what they would tell next year’s crop of seasonals, these two young men immediately replied, “Expect the unexpected! There are slow days and busy days. Sometime through the summer, you will see a bit of everyone’s wild side.”
Then our conversation took a different turn. Without any prompting, discussion focused on the differences between being a police officer in Rehoboth Beach or Dewey Beach. “Rehoboth Beach is not even close to Dewey Beach,” they implored. Of course, they were not saying this in terms of geography, but the type of incidents one faces in Dewey. Details of these differences remain confidential, but anyone reading a newspaper will be familiar with them already!
A common interview approach is to have the interviewee complete this sentence: “The best thing about being a police officer in Rehoboth Beach is….” The answers included “the experience; developing one’s verbal skills in dealing with tourists; learning how to properly put handcuffs on someone; and lastly, it is a great way to determine if you really want to be a cop!”
My interview with these two seasonals was enjoyable, relaxed and encouraging. While still moving toward being a full-timer myself in this great town, and being a Rehoboth Beach homeowner for the last two years, I came away from this experience with a renewed sense of security in this town. The full-time police force in Rehoboth Beach works well with the seasonals, teaching them the ropes, and most importantly, backing them up in whatever situation they may find themselves from one day to the next. There is no sense of “us vs. them” in the police department—they operate as one team, in season and out.
The orientation CAMP Rehoboth provides the seasonals carries a message not only being heard, but fully adopted. That message is Rehoboth Beach is a safe place for all people, gay or straight. The seasonals will do their part to make that come true, as should we, the public at large.