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Aransas Pass Police Department ramping up their boat patrols 

The Aransas Pass Police Department is trying to make sure everyone stays safe, not only on the streets, but in the water as well.

The department purchased a new patrol boat two years ago to help with marine enforcement.

Over the next few months, the Aransas Pass police officers will be able to slow down reckless boaters,  assist other boaters, verify registration and make sure boats are equipped with safety equipment like life jackets, a sound producing device like a horn or whistle, and a fire extinguisher.

“We also just check to make sure you have a good driver’s license and that you got your boater’s safety course and that you got a boater’s registration through the Texas Parks and Wildlife,” said Aransas Pass Police Officer/Marine Safety Enforcement Jack McCarty.

McCarty says they get a lot of calls of service, and they have a lot of coastline that needs to be patrolled.

“We have had many marine emergencies where there have been no vessels, and Coast Guard has been it, or Game Wardens have been it.

Unfortunately, game wardens are not always on duty, and sometimes, the Coast Guard is on other rescues. It can take them up to two hours to get to us sometimes,” said McCarty.

The Aransas Pass Police Department was able to purchase the 23-foot-long $100,000 boat with no cost to the county.  The boat was paid for entirely by drug forfeiture money.

“On routine patrols, we are active about twice, once a pay period, so once every two weeks we are trying to get out on the water. We usually try to get out on the peak time when everybody is out on the water. For the marine division we are averaging at least two to three calls a month,” said McCarty.

The boat that was purchased just after Hurricane Harvey is expected to provide better services for the Marine Division and the community.

“It is paramount that you stay safe in these waters; it is paramount that you keep all your safety equipment. I have recovered more bodies from these waterways than I care to share. I have also done plenty of rescues where we save the people. The biggest thing is coming out and being prepared, staying sober, and just having good safe fun,” said McCarty.

The Aransas Pass boat patrol plans to be out every day for the rest of the summer.

Any person can operate a boat. But if you were born before September 1, 1993, you are exempt from the boater’s education program. But after that, you have to make sure you do have boater’s education while operating the vessel.

Boating Safety Tips:

  • Always wear a life jacket.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Be especially careful on personal watercrafts.
  • Children younger than age 13 must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved PFD while underway.
  • Enroll in a boater education class.
  • Don’t overload your boat.
  • Operate at a safe speed.
  • Always have a passenger serve as a lookout in addition to the operator.
  • Watch out for low water areas or submerged objects.

Always Wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) or Life Jacket

  • Most boating fatality victims were found (recovered) NOT wearing a PFD.
  • Always carry extra PFD’s in both adult and child sizes.
  • Children younger than 13 years old must wear a PFD while underway.

Avoid Alcohol

  • The probability of being killed in a boating accident doubles when alcohol is involved.
  • Operating a boat under the influence is just as dangerous as driving a car after you’ve been drinking.
  • Boating while intoxicated (BWI) is strictly enforced and carries penalties similar to driving while intoxicated penalties, including possible Driver’s License suspension.

Enroll in a Boater Education Course

  • It’s a good idea for the whole family to enroll in a boater education course.
  • A majority (52%) vessels involved in boating accidents are operated by persons 26-50 years of age.
  • For information on the classroom, home video and online course options, visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Boater Education Web pages or call (800) 792-1112.

Be Especially Careful On Personal Watercraft (PWC)

  • PWC operators and passengers must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved PFD.
  • Before you borrow or rent a PWC, take the time to learn how to operate the vessel and the rules of the waterway.
  • Obey the 50-foot rule! Maintain a 50-foot distance from other PWC’s, vessels, persons, shore, or stationary platform or other objects unless operating at headway (idle) speed.

Operate at a Safe Speed

  • Although there are no numerical speed limits on the water, citations may be issued for excessive speed or reckless operation. Use common sense, and operate at a safe speed at all times — especially in crowded areas.
  • Excessive speed is a rate of speed greater than is reasonable or prudent without regard for conditions and hazards or greater than will permit a person to bring the boat to a stop within the assured clear distance ahead.
Roland Rodriguez

Roland Rodriguez

Roland Rodriguez is a reporter for KRIS 6 Sunrise.
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