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police & fire

Keep Joe the Plumber: We’ll take Joey the GWB Hero

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

Did you know that dozens jump from the George Washington Bridge to their deaths each year? Did you also know that an amazing team of Port Authority police negotiators, when alerted immediately, have saved countless others from a similar fate? All that stands between them and possible harm are guards paid to do a simple task: Keep an eye out — not closed.

So Citizen Joe Lepore discovers not one but two of them nodding off on the job. He warns one — not once, but twice — yet finds him snoozing again. After finding the other, he snaps the photos that this week appeared nationwide.

And for this he’s catching flak?

I try to keep comments flowing freely on CLIFFVIEWPILOT.COM. I try to steer clear, let the vox populi opine, whine and wheedle.

But as Lepore himself would say: Enough is enough.

To think that some are openly criticizing him for his photographs hits a raw nerve. A man who had nothing to gain personally now suffers the cheap slings and arrows, all for wanting to protect a national symbol that our government has declared vulnerable? (See: Asleep at the Bridge )

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Joe Lepore. You are my hero.

And thank you, thank you, thank you, all of Joey’s friends, for writing in to support him.

“Not only did the 2 security guard(sic) lose their jobs, but the 50-70 guards that work there (sic) jobs are in jepoardy(sic) because Mr. Lepore could have kept this from going public,” one poster writes.

Ah…. So perhaps the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which pays billions to protect open targets from harm, would have cancelled its contract with the firm that hires the laconic lookouts if Joey had gone to them on the QT?

Or maybe the agency would have decided to put its own uniformed police officers on the bridge, the same as you see at the tunnels — all on one man’s word?

Jerry DeMarco (Publisher/Editor)

We should be that lucky.

As a quasi-public agency, the authority answers to no one but itself and the governors of New York and New Jersey. Officials there didn’t have to do anything if they didn’t want to. But they stepped up, anyway.

I like this post: “How many times have we messed up on our jobs” and gotten warnings instead of pink slips? I don’t know, Sparky. You tell me. Meanwhile, another writer actually seemed to be making sense — until he referenced “Mall Cop.”

If these guys were lookouts for the mob, they wouldn’t be sleeping on the bridge. They’d be sleeping with whatever fish are still plumbing the Hudson.

Who knows? Maybe those taking the potshots have personal axes to grind. Joey Lepore doesn’t. He’s been a bicycling commuter for 25 years, runs his own business teaching people bicycle safety and dabbles in photography. Oh, and he’s a professional magician who performs for free at psych centers throughout the metropolitan area.

The first time it happened, he talked to Snoozer No. 1 and pedaled off. When he found the same guy in Dreamland again, he wrapped on the window, and they spoke once more.

The third time brought the harm. I know Joey anguished after that one, because we discussed it several times (See: Cyclist Who Caught GWB Guards Napping ).

Then came Monday morning. After finding a different guard sleeping TWICE during the same shift, Joey sent me the pics. And I published them.

You got a problem with that? I say: Being alert is the sole point of being there. Bring me one boss, one supervisor, one owner, who can justify any paid employee — much less a lookout — sleeping on the job.

Apparently, several drivers can: Check out the footage on some of the media websites, the ones where they interview motorists who say they’ve seen GWB guards napping “plenty” of times. If they’re telling the truth, why didn’t THEY ever say something?

You know what I would do if I owned a food business near the bridge? I’d start bringing the new guards coffee in the morning. I’d even contact CLIFFVIEWPILOT.COM’s publisher and editor (that would be me) to come take a photo. Free java = free pub.

Go ahead: Call me an opportunist.

I haven’t even started yet.

If I were a local lawmaker — even, say, a freeholder board — I’d declare a “Joey Lepore Day,” complete with an honorary certificate (Sorry, Joe: funds are low everywhere; plaques are expensive).

If I were with the state or federal government, I’d invite my new hero to a meeting of lawmakers, then introduce him to the house so he could bathe in the applause.

If I were with the New York Stock Exchange, I’d find a way to have him ring the opening bell this Friday, or next Tuesday.

Better yet: How about the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey commending Joe for his selfless act as a human being and a citizen? What if an “authority figure” shakes his hand and pats him on the back — as the cameras roll?

Didn’t 9/11 teach anybody anything? Amid all the potential for calamity that exists in so densely populated an area, the only foolproof vigilance we each have is for one another. Do you know how many pedestrians or cyclists run into trouble on the bridge and need immediate help? Or how many morons try to climb the towers? The Port Authority does, and that’s why it pays a security company to post lookouts.

I swear, I’d throw Joey his own parade if I could. I’d stand there, wave an American flag, and clap the loudest and longest. I’d even urge others to join me.

Together, we could show Joe Lepore the love he deserves.

At the same time, maybe we could drown out the pot-shooters.

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