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Nassau marine cops honored for rescuing fishermen

It was just another line item on a report commissioned last month by Nassau County’s financial control board: Closing the police marine bureau could cut $4 million in costs from the county budget, a consultant wrote.

But according to Police Benevolent Association president James McDermott, the bureau’s value is defined not by numbers, but by the type of rescue detailed for Nassau County legislators Monday.

On June. 9, two bureau officers, Joseph Weller and Timothy Waterbury, navigated dark, frigid waters off Centre Island Beach to rescue three fishermen who were clinging to the side of their capsized canoe, officials said.

“This is what these guys do, and to lose something like the marine bureau because of a report is ridiculous,” McDermott said at Monday’s legislature meeting, as Weller and Waterbury received a legislative citation.

Weller, thanking legislators for the honor, spoke of his unit’s unique role in patrolling local waterways, which can become treacherous at a moment’s notice.

“Is there a lot of downtime? Yeah,” Weller said. “But when it hits the fan, it comes alive and they do a very good job.”

The Nassau Interim Finance Authority report had said town bay constables and the U.S. Coast Guard already patrol local waterways. But the police marine bureau will not be eliminated, as county leaders dismissed public safety-related budget cuts the consultant had suggested.

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