The Whitefish Chain Yacht Club asked me to write a column about boating and water safety. I thought it would be important to first explain what role the sheriff's office has in water safety.
Minnesota state statute mandates that the sheriff of each county have a program for search and rescue, buoying or marking, patrol, removal of hazards to navigation and inspection of watercraft for rent, lease or hire.
The sheriff also investigates all accidents and drownings and issues permits for all temporary water structures and events taking place on the water.
The Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office Water Patrol Division is operated year-round and uses additional staffing during the summer months to patrol the lakes within the county. The sheriff's office has a volunteer dive team that assists in the search, rescue and recovery operations.
The funding for personnel and equipment comes from the county budget and through state and federal grants. Four of the fully equipped boats used for patrol operations have been purchased with federal grant money.
The sheriff's office also conducts a number of youth operator classes, displays and presentations throughout the year. The youth operator classes are taught with area conservation officers and offered during the summer months to educate the students and prepare them for the test to earn their State of Minnesota Watercraft Operator's Permit.
The operator's permit allows youth ages 12 and older to operate a watercraft with a motor greater than 25 hp. One of the highlights for the kids is the opportunity to operate one of the patrol boats on a marked course.
Future articles will cover different topics related to boating safety and some of the most common violations that are seen on area lakes.
We teach our students the first and last rule of boating safety is to wear your life jacket. So until next time, safe boating and wear your life jacket.
(Sgt. Scott Goddard is the supervisor for the Water Patrol, Dive Team, Civil, Transports and Court Security divisions of the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office. Goddard is a lifelong resident of Crow Wing County and grew up boating and fishing on the Whitefish Chain. Goddard can be contacted at 218-829-4749 or email@example.com.)
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