MIAMI (CBS4) – After the recent controversy over the firing of a Hallandale Beach lifeguard, the city’s mayor is now chiming in.
“I’d imagine it would be handled 100% differently if it was in our hands,” said Mayor Joy Cooper.
Residents like Richard Koloden agree.
“There wouldn’t be this ridicules rule like you can’t go 20 feet past your stand to save someone, so I think absolutely they should make it a public service,” said Koloden.
Mayor Cooper says the decision outsource lifeguards in Hallandale Beach to the Jeff Ellis Management Company in 2003 was made out of concern for coverage. The city didn’t feel they had enough certified lifeguards to protect the beaches and pools.
Although she says safety was always the top priority, money also seemingly played a role. The city reportedly saved hundreds of thousands of dollars by outsourcing the management of lifeguards.
But, Cooper says what made sense then, might not make sense for the anymore.
“What I’ve asked the city manager to do is research every opportunity there is to address the contract and options for bringing the services back into our community and hire our own lifeguards,” said Cooper.
That is already being done in neighboring Hollywood and Ft. Lauderdale, where all lifeguards are city employees.
The city’s contract with Jeff Ellis Management is set to expire later this year. After describing the company’s handling of Tomas Lopez’s situation as inappropriate and unprofessional, she said getting rid of them before doing a thorough investigation and some research would be irresponsible.
As for Lopez, he will be meeting up with the victim he helped save Monday morning at city hall.