Water patrol programs a success this year
by Elsie Hodnett
PELL CITY — The Police Department Marine Patrol Unit and Dock Watch Programs were successful this summer and are continuing year-round.

“The Dock Watch program, marine police from the state, conservation officers and local marine police programs were exceptional this year,” Pell City Police Chief Greg Turley said.

Turley said from May 6 through Sept. 23, the Pell City Marine Police Unit operated 150 hours of patrol duty and logged 50 engine hours.

Officers reported the following activity:

• One misdemeanor arrest.

• Two missing persons searches.

• One recovery of a missing vessel.

• Three recoveries of missing watercraft.

• Four buoys recovered.

• Two hazards removed from the lake, including a partially sunk boat.

• Eight boater assists.

“We also participated in Operation Dry Water for the past two years,” Turley said.

He said Operation Dry Water is a collaboration of the U.S. Coast Guard, federal, state, county and local marine police units all coming together for an enforcement period targeting boating under the influence.

“It’s like Click It or Ticket but targeting BUI’s,” he said. “It draws attention to safety on the water, to try to reduce accidents and fatalities on the water.”

Turley said nationwide, there was more participation in Operation Dry Water this year. The final statistics were available for 2011, and 84 percent of reporting for 2012.

Participating agencies increased from 447 in 2011 to 501 in 2012. Officers increased from 3,687 in 2011 to 4,485 this year. In 2011, there were 43,777 vessel contacts and 97,648 boater contacts. In 2012, there were 48,757 vessel contacts and 111,746 boater contacts.

Turley said citations increased from 4,370 to 4,811 and safety warnings also increased from 8,763 to 9,660. There were 325 BUI’s in 2011 and 335 in 2012. The highest blood alcohol level for 2011 was 0.305 in Missouri and for 2012 was 0.38 in Michigan.

“It’s important to keep the marine patrols and Dock Watch Program going year-round,” he said. “We learned early that when the vessel came out of the water, thefts increased. So we are operating the vessel year-round to help combat that.”

Participation in the Dock Watch Program is free. Individuals can sign up to be on an email list and will receive emails regarding activity on the water.

To sign up, email you name, address and phone number to dockwatch@epell.net.

Individuals are encouraged to email in strange or suspicious activity.

The coverage area is roughly from Dye Creek down to Harmon Island.

The best way to reach the Pell City marine officers is to call St. Clair County Central Dispatch at 205-884-3333 or dial 911 if it’s an emergency. They can also be reached on channel #16 on a marine radio.

© 2012