Pell City receives 2 free marine boats
by Elsie Hodnett
PELL CITY – The police department is expanding its marine coverage with the acquisition of two new free patrol vessels from the military surplus program.

“The vessels will allow us to reduce response times and provide better patrol coverage, as well as respond to a recent rash of thefts on Logan Martin Lake,” Pell City Police Chief Greg Turley said.

Turley said one of the boats, a 1994 limited edition 17-foot D.A.R.E. boat, a Bayliner 1750 Capri Bowrider able to support the agency’s strong D.A.R.E. program.

“The vessel completed ‘sea trials’ last weekend and is expected to be patrol-ready this weekend thanks to the hard work of the department’s Special Operations Unit, which maintains and operates the marine program,” he said.

Turley said the second vessel is a Coast Guard 550 coastal patrol boat RHIB (rigid-inflatable) that only has 165 hours of operation on the meter.

“This 17-foot vessel is jet-powered and turbocharged with a North American Marine engine,” he said. “This will allow us to perform safe shallow-water operations.”

Turley said the original price of the D.A.R.E. boat is $25,000 and the Coast Guard boat is $84,000.

He said the Pell City Police Department first began its marine program in response to thefts in 2010.

“We set a goal to have one of the best-served lakes in Alabama,” he said. “Since then, we acquired a 25-foot C-Hawk police boat from the Alabama Marine Resources. We also established a first-of-its-kind Dock Watch program that has more than 200 homeowners registered.”

Turley said through the main focus of the program is to serve the needs of residents and those who enjoy the lake, the unit is currently working with the Alabama State Marine Police to capture suspects who are cutting the battery cables to boats on the lake and stealing the batteries at night.

“Numerous thefts have also plagued the Riverside area, with thieves stealing items from the docks,” he said. “The Pell City Marine Police will now be able to keep a patrol vessel up-river and one down-river at all times and utilize tools such as night vision devices and intelligence from its Dock Watch members to put an end to these thefts.”

Officials said another goal of the Dock Watch Program is to help make people on the lake more aware of what’s going on around them. Community policing results in an increase in reported crimes, because it is putting more individuals who have a vested interest into the solution of eliminating crime and the fear of crime.

Participation in the Dock Watch Program is free. Individuals may 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.

Participants are encouraged to send in emails when they see strange or suspicious activity. They may also put in requests for services, such as extra patrol requests when going out of town.

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.

Contact Elsie Hodnett at ehodnett@dailyhome.com.

© 2013