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Multi-Jurisdictional Rec Patrols (Marine, Snowmobile, ATV/UTV, etc.)

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  • Multi-Jurisdictional Rec Patrols (Marine, Snowmobile, ATV/UTV, etc.)

    I've been a cop in my state for over 20 years, and I just learned of a whole area of law enforcement in my area that I never knew existed.

    I'm in a state with a lot of outdoor recreation: Lakes, rivers, forests, OHV trails, etc. Many of those areas have law enforcement coverage through the state-level natural resources department (known around here as conservations wardens, but fully sworn LEOs). Also, some sheriff's departments have recreational patrol specialty units that also offer coverage in those areas.

    But I recently chatted with a person who is a sworn LEO working for a unit that's not attached to any 1 particular jurisdiction or agency. In this particular case, there is a large river/lake system that spans multiple municipalities and townships. All of those local governments cooperate to fund a marine patrol that works the full-length of the riverway. They also get some funding from the state, as there is less of a need for the natural resources agency to patrol the river with them in place. Their main function is boating safety, but they engage in things like drug interdiction, warrant arrests, and other more traditional police work.

    With this new information, I did a bit of research and found there are similar agencies throughout our state. Marine patrols are most common, I also found some that do the same on the off-highway vehicle (OHV) trails and other less-populated natural areas.

    How common is this in other states? Anyone ever done it?

    It intrigued me a bit because it seemed like it could be an interesting retirement gig for someone who wanted to keep a foot in LE and enjoyed the outdoors.

  • #2
    The only one I am aware of in NY would be something like the Lake George Marine Patrol 2022-marine-patrol-annual-report.pdf (ny.gov)​. They are apparently a state-funded agency but are peace officers rather than full police.

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    • #3
      Recreational boating LE (aka the Fun Police) is becoming more common among county, township, and city PDs. Money funnels down from the US Coast Guard and state marine safety boards every year for local agencies to patrol lakes and streams. How it actually gets implemented can vary widely among departments... I live in an area with multiple busy lakes which fall under several jurisdictions- two townships, two counties, and the state DNR. For one county agency, it's a summer gig for retired guys and unarmed cadets, on the water flying the flag and burning boat gas but no real effort is made at LE. Another county has a full-time marine patrol division and the state DNR also commits significant resources, although my game warden buddies often lament how they miss the days of fish and game work. It may seem like enjoyable work but the reality is alcohol-based recreation brings it's own unique challenges... just ask anyone who's made an arrest for BUI or MIP in the middle of a flotilla of pontoon boats and jet skis, amidst a crowd of sunburned drunks who want to play hard on their weekends without The Man bothering them....
      The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.

      -Ernest Hemingway

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      • #4
        I've never heard of such a thing in Ohio. We have a significant number of local, state, county, and park district police who operate on our waterways.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Ratatatat View Post
          It may seem like enjoyable work but the reality is alcohol-based recreation brings it's own unique challenges... just ask anyone who's made an arrest for BUI or MIP in the middle of a flotilla of pontoon boats and jet skis, amidst a crowd of sunburned drunks who want to play hard on their weekends without The Man bothering them....
          This reminds me of the 2 summers I was temporarily assigned to beach patrol in coney Island. No boats just sunburned drunks causing a ****load of problems ..

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