El Dorado Sheriff’s Department gears up for summer | TahoeDailyTribune.com

El Dorado Sheriff’s Department gears up for summer

Rob Bhatt

The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department spent last weekend gearing up for the boating season.

The department’s marine officers underwent a three-day training course on boat handling and water rescue techniques conducted by the National Marine Safety Center.

The session included classroom discussions but emphasized hands-on training in Lake Tahoe, said Sgt. Warren Smith.

The training program also allowed the sheriff’s department to break out its new, roughly $90,000 patrol boat. The California Department of Boating and Waterways paid about $55,000 toward the cost of the 27-foot, deep V-hulled cruiser.

“It seems to be an incredibly well-handling boat,” Smith said.

The sheriff’s department patrols Lake Tahoe along roughly 22 miles between Tahoma and Camp Richardson.

The marine officers’ caseload includes enforcing speed laws, assisting boaters, resolving mechanical problems, responding to medical aid calls on vessels and responding to capsized boats and boating accidents.

“We handle everything from routine enforcement of speed laws at Emerald Bay to life-and-death emergencies,” Smith added.

This year, the sheriff’s department plans to initiate marine patrol on Lake Tahoe on May 10. The department has four employees – including two law enforcement retirees – assigned to patrol the lake. Another roughly half dozen employees are trained in boat handling and water rescue for additional staffing during emergencies.

The department is one of six jurisdictions – including the U.S. Coast Guard – that patrols Lake Tahoe. The sheriff’s department also patrols Fallen Leaf Lake.

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