SPOKANE--The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office Marine Law Enforcement Unit received the Program of the Year 2012-For Overall Excellence in Marine Law Enforcement & Boater Safety Education Award from the Washington State Parks & Recreation Commission Boating Programs Office.
Last week, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office Marine Law Enforcement Unit hosted the Washington State 2012 Marine Law Enforcement Conference where they received the award. Several Washington State law enforcement marine units attend the conference and other awards were handed out including Life Saving Awards & Boater Education Class awards to agencies across the state.
The nomination narrative for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit is listed below:
The Spokane County Sheriff's Office Marine Enforcement Unit currently consists of two assigned Deputies working under a Patrol Sergeant. More than a dozen Spokane County Sheriff’s and Spokane Valley Sheriff’s Patrol Deputies have been through the Basic Marine Law Enforcement Academy and work Marine Enforcement on an interim basis throughout the boating season. Our local boating season begins in April as most of the lakes open for recreational fishing. Recreational boat traffic normally increases around Memorial Day as the weather begins to warm and continues through the end of September.
Spokane County Marine Enforcement is in year three of a revitalizing assessment of its Boat Safety Program. We, like many areas, experienced a downturn in economic vitality beginning in 2008. This was coupled with a shortage of manpower within the Sheriff's Department. Funding decreases and manpower shortages forced us to re-evaluate our approach to meeting our local Recreational Boating Safety (RBS) missions. Through strategic planning, restructuring, and partnerships with State Parks and the community, we not only continued to fulfill our RBS requirements but actually increased our effectiveness in reaching our RBS goals.
In spite of a 40% decrease in funding, we have updated our aging fleet by purchasing PWCs (Personal Water Craft), and two new patrol vessels over the last two years. This was accomplished by the support of the Sheriff and his Command Staff through local funding, along with grant support, from Washington State Parks Boating Program. Local partnerships with Corporations such as, Avista Corporation, have also allowed us to purchase equipment in support of the RBS mission.
Even though manpower shortages have resulted in a 65% decline in the number of Deputies assigned to the unit, our stats over the last three years have continued to increase year to year. Through assessment and strategic planning, our 2011 written inspection totals reflect a 73% increase from the 2008 boating season.
Spokane County Marine Enforcement is committed to educating the public on boating safety. We spread the word to boaters by on the water contacts and enforcement, ramp checks, social events, and aggressive media blitzes through the local news stations, Facebook, and Twitter. In partnership with our public information officers and local news reporters, we keep the public informed on requirements and local trends and safety issues in our area.
Spokane County Sheriff’s Marine Enforcement provides monthly Mandatory Boater Education Courses at our Training Center. We partner with our Crime Prevention and School Resource Deputies hosting Boater Education courses at local High Schools and other venues upon request. Groups are encouraged to contact us and request a course be provided at their venue. We have partnered with local law enforcement agencies, homeowners associations, church groups, civic organizations, and businesses to provide courses at their locations and convenience to get the Boat Safety message out.
As with any program or organization, the people involved set the standard and provide the commitment to fulfill the mission. Through partnerships and common interests, we continue to accomplish our goals. The Supervisors, Deputies, Reserves, and Volunteers within the Spokane County Sheriff’s Marine Enforcement Program are all great people who are committed to going the extra mile for public safety. For this reason, their dedication and their accomplishments, it is my pleasure to nominate the Spokane County Sheriff's Office for the Recreational Boating Safety Marine Law Enforcement of the Year Award.