LUDINGTON, Mich. (WZZM) -- Most communities with beaches on Lake Michigan display a red flag when swimming conditions are dangerous and then leave it up swimmers to decide if they want to swim.
However in Ludington, red flags are being followed with enforcement and have been ever since three peopled drowned in 2010 at Stearns Beach.
The Ludington City Council passed an ordinance giving the power to close swimming at Ludington beaches to City Manager John Shay, Police Chief Mark Barnett, and a few other city officials.
Shay says city officials took an in-depth look at the beach safety protocol when creating the ordinance. "We thought that we would err more on the side of public safety," Shay says.
Stearns Beach in Ludington was closed on Friday after the beaches on Lake Michigan were under a beach hazard warning issued by the U.S. Coast Guard.
"We would much rather make that call than making a call to notify someone of an injury or worse," says Ludington Police Chief Mark Barnett.
Shay says the rip current warnings, the conditions, and reports that some swimmers needed help getting back to shore solidified the decision to close the beach.
"They see some waves and think it will be fun, then the next thing you know is swimmer are having some issues," Barnett says.
Beach patrol officers put up "No Swimming" flags and use an ATV and bull horn to enforce the no swimming decision. However, Shay says that in the past two years, the beach has only been closed a few times and people are still allowed to lay out in the sand and use the park.
Shay and Barnett realize visitors often drive long distances to swim at the city beach, but they are prepared to make the call to close the beach if serious danger exists.
"And certainly our procedures will not guarantee that someone will not drown at our beach," Shay says.