Section III

Boating Law Enforcement Programs

In support of the Department's mission to provide leadership in promoting the public's right to safe and enjoyable boating on California waterways, the Enforcement Unit has two primary objectives:

A. Financial Aid Program

The Department believes that boating safety is directly proportional to the level of enforcement activity on California's waters. Therefore, the Department's financial aid program provides supplemental funding to local Governments, usually for county sheriff boating patrol units. The funding supports enforcement of State and local measures for regulations of boating activities, inspection of vessels, supervision of water events, search and rescue operations, and recovery of drowned bodies.

During FY1997/98, the Department allocated $8.1 million in funding to 32 counties and 2 cities for boating law enforcement operations including maintenance, equipment, and personnel costs. Exhibit III-1 on the following page presents a summary of services supported during this period by the financial aid program.

Boating law enforcement officers provide important safety education to the boating public. A positive working relationship with the law enforcement community in turn provides the Department with an excellent resource to help educate and communicate with the recreational boater.

In FY1997/98, law enforcement officers provided boating safety education to nearly 30,000 vessel operators, primarily by means of verbal warnings, which act as teaching tools to give the boater more knowledge and help prevent accidents.

Exhibit III-1
Services Supported by the 1998 Financial Aid Program

Regulation Enforcement Verbal Warnings ....................................................................................... 23,628 Citations .................................................................................................... 3,051 Physical Arrests ........................................................................................... 226

Boater Assistance Persons Assisted ...................................................................................... 23,851 Vessels Assisted ....................................................................................... 3,348 Accident Investigations .................................................................................. 948

Search and Rescue Operations Boating Safety Presentations ............................................................................... 1,302 Vessel Inspections .............................................................................................. 36,444 Organized Boating Event Supervision ...................................................................... 79

B. Law Enforcement Training Program

California does not have centralized boating law enforcement. There are more than 100 public agencies throughout the State that enforce California's boating laws. Consequently, the interpretation of boating laws could vary from agency to agency, making it confusing for California's boaters. However, the Department provides an extensive law enforcement training program to ensure that boaters can expect uniform law enforcement on waterways throughout the state.

During 1998, the Department conducted 19 one-week classes (750 hours) throughout the State and trained more than 500 marine patrol officers. These courses are taught by law enforcement specialists for law enforcement personnel who bring great expertise and credibility to the training program.

The Department offers training classes in the following areas:

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