Sheriff’s deputies train for new Grand County boat patrol
Deputies were out on the water last week, undergoing boat training for the Grand County Sheriff’s Office and preparing for the beginning of their regular patrol duties on the lakes and reservoirs of the high country.
The two Grand County officers, Sgt. Mike Reed and Sgt. Nate McEwen, were in the Three Lakes region with wildlife officers from Colorado Parks and Wildlife training on the proper procedures and regulations regarding boating law-enforcement.
According to Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Lt. Dan Mayer, Reed and McEwen received training in basic boat operation, maintenance and upkeep, boating laws and regulations, violation enforcement and rescue operations.
The training in rescue operations includes instructions about the preparation and use of throw-ropes and how to properly place someone on a backboard in the water when stabilization is required. The Deputies and wildlife officers also trained on the proper techniques for making contact with other boats and how to bring boats on the water together safely. The training covers some aspects of body recovery including how to mark off an area where a drowning has occurred as well.
As more deputies receive training on boating law enforcement, locals and tourists can expect a more regular law-enforcement presence on the lakes. Prior to the department’s current efforts to create a boat patrol unit, the waters of Grand County were primarily patrolled by Parks and Wildlife officers. While patrolling the Three Lakes, wildlife officers are principally concerned with violations related to fishing. District Wildlife Manager for Grand County Jeromy Huntington explained he and other Parks and Wildlife officers can legally enforce any violation as certified law-enforcement officers, but they tend to focus their efforts on hunters and anglers.
Parks and Wildlife trains new officers in boating/fishing enforcement in the Three Lakes region, and their training courses provided an opportunity for the sheriff’s personnel to begin training deputies for future patrol duties.
The recent drowning death of Christopher Mullinex over the Fourth of July weekend on Lake Granby led many in Grand County to question the absence of law enforcement on the county’s recreational waters. The Sheriff’s Office had previously discussed creating a boat patrol, but no such unit existed at the time of Mullinex’s death and the department owned no patrol boat.
Shortly after the Fourth of July weekend, Dick and June Paquette donated a 22-foot Boston Whaler to the department after seeing in local news reports the department was in need of a boat.
Officers are working to modify the boat donated by the Paquettes for law-enforcement purposes including new signage denoting the boat as a patrol vehicle for the Sheriff’s Office. Lt. Mayer said he expects boat patrols to begin on Lake Granby in the next two to three weeks, after all law-enforcement modifications are completed on the boat.
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