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Marine Patrol watching the waters

As boaters turned to the Ohio River this Labor Day weekend, the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department Marine Patrol took to the water – keeping a watchful eye on the weekend’s recreational boating.

Monday, September 03, 2001

As boaters turned to the Ohio River this Labor Day weekend, the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department Marine Patrol took to the water – keeping a watchful eye on the weekend’s recreational boating.

Deputies Aaron Bollinger and Randy Rogers patrolled the river from noon until 7 p.m. Saturday aboard the department’s 21-foot Boston Whaler. The officers monitored river traffic from Ashland, Ky. to the Scioto County border. Along the way, they lent assistance to boaters and performed safety inspections.

One boat the deputies stopped highlighted the reason the Sheriff’s Department is on the river.

The boat was filled with four adults and three children. This was the boater’s first year on the water and the deputies stopped his craft to see if he was over the weight limits for the boat since there were seven people on board. Once stopped, the deputies started a safety inspection – the registration letters and numbers weren’t spaced properly, the boater didn’t have a signal flag or a sound producing device like a horn or whistle, and the boater had his trailer registration in the boat’s glove box, not the boat’s registration.

After the deputies explained what the boater needed to do to bring his boat into compliance and issued a warning, the boaters turned back to the river to continue their day on the water.

Bollinger explained that the police aren’t patrolling to harass boaters, but to make sure the laws are being followed for the safety of those on the water.

The Marine Patrol not only monitors the river, but the lakes and streams in the county. Recently, the Sheriff’s Department received a grant to purchase a John Boat in order to increase the areas the unit can patrol.

All of the deputies on the Marine Patrol have regular duties at the Sheriff’s Department and are also trained, voluntarily, in the procedures needed to operate a water patrol.

In addition to patrolling the water, the unit works on educational programs. The marine patrol goes to the schools bringing Splish and Splash the Splash Test Dummies along with them to teach children how to be safe around water.

Kitts said the program has had an impact on river safety, citing a decline in the number of accidents on the river since the education program started.