ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Officials from the Rochester Police Department announced safety plans for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend Thursday, specifically in regards to Ontario Beach Park.
Authorities say they are expecting a large turnout at the beach and the adjacent park for the holiday weekend, and they say additional patrols will be added with assistance from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and New York State Police.
Due to staffing issues, and an increase in violent crime, RPD officials announce a new patrol partnership with the sheriff’s office and state police earlier this month.
Police say that if the area gets too crowded, they will consider closing the parking lots and area streets if “the volume or activity of those visiting becomes unsafe” — something RPD has done at Ontario Beach Park for past Memorial Days.
Officials say visitors at the beach over the holiday weekend can expect to see foot patrols and bike patrols, along with vehicle patrols that normally occur.
“We will have an ATV out here and mobile unit out here for most of the weekend,” Capt. Nathan Cornell with Rochester Police said. “We really try to cover all the different means. It gives us the ability to go to different places.”
RPD and their law enforcement partners will also be working to ensure safe roads for the holiday weekend and they urge people to not drink and drive, to use a designated driver, or rideshare services. They also said, “if you see something, say something; call 911 so we can do something.”
“They’re not necessarily being run through this specific detail at the park but there will be details this weekend being run,” Capt. Cornell said. “We will have officers at various points if we see a lot of traffic congestion and a concerning number of people at the park.”
Even further on the lake, the Coast Guard is also partnering up with the RPD and MCSO to ensure boaters maintain order and assist in any rescues.
“We keep a crew on call 24/7 here at the station of Rochester and they’re ready to respond to anything as far as law enforcement or search and rescue,” Chief Officer Matt Riesberg of the Rochester Coast Guard Station said. “General boating safety, we enforce the same standards as New York State with our partners in Monroe County for drinking and boating under the influence.”
Earlier this month a man died after a fight broke out at Ontario Beach Park. One Rochester man was arrested and charged with criminally negligent homicide for that fight.
Despite that incident, parkgoers told News 8 earlier this month that, for the most part, the park remains a safe family-friendly environment. Rochester resident Emily Harris told us that she feels comfortable with her children there.
“When I come here that’s basically all I see is other families enjoying the park,” Harris said. “We love the water, we love the beach, we love walking on the pier. All of it.”
“We always come during the day, and I’ve never had any problems,” Christine Herbert of Greece said. “People are always greeting you; people are friendly. It always seems like a family place.”
Beaches are not officially open until the end of June. Rochester police officers advise locals to stay out of any deep water until lifeguards are put on duty.