Marine Patrol Officerssmmmby Tom Schiliro


The Suffolk County Police Department’s Marine Bureau is gearing up to ensure that we enjoy our most precious resource, our waterways. Every year, they get all their boats, safety equipment and patrol vehicles in shape to perform the most unique form of law enforcement water and barrier beach patrols. All this is done with an eye on a very different Long Island typography.
For instance, consider the north shore where the Long Island Sound has deep water ports and commercial access routes to Connecticut, New England and of course, New York City. This is a major patrol area of the Marine Bureau. Thousands of recreational boaters use this coastline and as Sgt. Vahey, a long time veteran of the SCPD, states ” the sound can act like an angry ocean at times.” This can create safety hazards for the weekender who may not have the same experience as our Marine Patrol Officers. When the novice boater gets in trouble, it’s the expertise, equipment and experience of these officers that can save lives. By using your cellphone out on the water, the Marine Bureau will be able to track your location. Don’t call someone else to report your emergency, do it directly yourself. It is also best to monitor weather reports and file a float plan to let someone know where you are and where you are going.
Long Island’s south shore and the Great South Bay can also create hazards albeit different from the sound coastline. The Great South Bay has a maximum depth in areas of only eight feet. In many locations the water is knee high to many of the waterfowl that grace our waterways. Boaters need to be highly aware of channels to travel safely without running aground. Marine bureau reports that running aground at high speed can cause injuries, an accident that can be avoided with simple precautions. Use charts and acquire local knowledge of where you want to boat. In addition Suffolk’s Marine Bureau will conduct boating classes using local waterways as a reference. Many of the Marine Bureau Officers are licensed Captains and they are in the knowledge. The same holds true of the Coast Guard Auxillary. Boaters are urged to take these classes and have peace of mind.
As the number of boaters increase so does the need for greater vigilance for safety. The good news is that Long Islanders are heeding this advice. According to Sgt. Vahey, there were no boating fatalities on Long Island waterways in 2015. They are aiming to duplicate that this year by strict patrols, aggressively enforcing Boating While Intoxicated laws and checking safety equipment while out on the water. You can bet on it that keeping us safe will be their top priority.
It should be noted that waterway patrol is not the only Marine Bureau function. They are responsible for 17 communities on Fire Island. This patrol is done by off road vehicles, atv’s and foot patrols. In the winter time, the population of these Fire Island communities may number about 400 hearty souls. In the summer that number grows to 40,000 summer, partying residents, an ingredient that leads to 911 calls for disturbances, medical assists and any other areas that the imagination can conjure up. The Marine Bureau is staffed with professionals to deal with all emergencies, including the highly touted Med Cat Unit.
Enjoy this summer and be safe using common sense and acquired knowledge.
Tom Schiliro lives in Manorville and is the host of the LINEWS radio program “Eye On Crime” and can be heard on 103.9 FM on Sundays. Any questions or comments can be addressed by email to saddlerockofny@aol.com, care of Tom Schiliro

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