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's primary objectives are:

  To provide for adequate boating law enforcement through local agencies

  To ensure that the enforcement of California boating laws is uniform throughout the state

The Enforcement Unit meets these objectives through programs that provide officer training and financial aid to local boating law enforcement agencies.

This section contains the following subsections:
A. Financial Aid Program
B. Law Enforcement Training Program

A. Financial Aid Program

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 FY1998/99, the Department allocated $8.1 million in funding to 36 counties and 2 cities for boating law enforcement operations including maintenance, equipment, and personnel costs. Exhibit III-1 below presents a summary of services supported during this period by the financial aid program.

Exhibit III-1
Services Supported by the
1999 Financial Aid Program

Regulation Enforcement
Verbal Warnings45,579
Physical Arrests516
Boater Assistance
Persons Assisted21,298
Vessels Assisted8,225
Accident Investigations619
Search and Rescue Operations
Body Recovery Attempts85
Boating Safety Presentations2,533
Vessel Inspections55,245
Organized Boating Event Supervision207

Boating law enforcement officers provide important safety education to the boating public. The Department's partnerships with the law enforcement community provide the Department with an excellent resource to help educate and communicate with the recreational boater.

In FY1998/99, law enforcement officers provided boating safety education to more than 53,000 vessel operators, primarily by means of verbal warnings, which act as teaching tools to give the boater more knowledge and help prevent accidents.

B. Law Enforcement Training Program

In California, boating law enforcement is decentralized. 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 the State'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 1999, the Department conducted 21 one-week classes (830 hours) throughout the State and trained more than 500 marine patrol officers. These courses are designed for law enforcement personnel and are taught by law enforcement specialists who bring great expertise and credibility to the training program.

The Department offers training classes in the following areas:

  Seamanship—Rescue Boat Operations

  Boating—Basic Skills Training

  Coastal Piloting and Navigation

  Marine Firefighting

  Basic Boating Safety and Enforcement

  Boating Accident Investigation/Reconstruction

  Boating Intoxication Enforcement