Aug 23, 2013 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
It has been seven weeks since the Cazenovia Lake Boat Patrol took to the water to educate and, when necessary, enforce boating rules and safety issues on the lake, and the program, now manned by village police officers rather than county sheriff’s deputies, has been extremely successful.
“It’s just been a really good cooperative effort between all parties involved: the village, town, Cazenovia Lake Association, [New York state] park police, Willow Bank Yacht Club, both municipal attorneys and all my officers,” said Cazenovia Village Police Chief Michael Hayes. “We’re here to educate first and enforce second. The officers see it as another ability to contribute to the community and practice community policing.”
The lake patrol was formerly run by the Madison County Sheriff’s Office, but in 2012 the department had such a labor shortage that patrols were severely curtailed.
“The patrols really went to about nothing in both public perception and in actuality,” said Bob Greiner, Cazenovia Lake Association president.
So Greiner, working with Town Councilor Bill Zupan, approached Madison County Sheriff Allen Riley and asked if the lake patrol boat could be given back to the CLA — where the boat originated — so the organization could find another way to provide patrols. Riley said yes, so the CLA worked with both the town and village governments to create a shared services agreement between all parties.
The village, which was the only one of the three to have its own law enforcement agency, agreed to man the patrol with village police officers and do all the related management work, the town provided support and $3,000 for operating costs and the CLA provided $5,000 and the boat and all its accoutrements. The Willow Bank Yacht Club agreed to dock the boat in one of its slips.
After lengthy discussions between the three groups — mainly to work through jurisdictional issues — the village and town boards both unanimously approved an inter-municipal agreement to create the lake patrol in early July. The contract was based on the previous town agreement with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office. The newly refitted boat with village police officers at its helm took to Cazenovia Lake the weekend of July 4.
The lake patrol, which runs on a random basis although mostly on weekends, is mainly an educational resource for boaters although it does have the authority to enforce boating regulations. “It’s a safety patrol that has police capabilities,” Hayes said.
Patrol officers look for boaters or swimmers in need or in distress, and keep an eye out for safety issues on the lake. For example, patrol officers will look for people waterskiing without a spotter, which is dangerous if the skier goes down because the driver will not see what happened. Officers also look to ensure boaters have all the proper, and up-to-date, equipment in the boat such as life vests, ropes, flares and fire extinguishers.
“We’re not here to write tickets but to educate people,” Hayes said. “People really seem to welcome the fact that there’s a patrol out there.”
Cazenovia Mayor Kurt Wheeler said he has also received a lot of positive feedback from residents as well as from all the organizations involved in the patrol, and now that the program is up and running and all the pieces are in place, next year’s patrol will start as soon as the lake opens for the season.
As for funding, the village is currently looking for outside revenue to pay for — or help pay for — the patrols. Hayes said he will apply for state navigation funding grants soon that could, if received, pay for the patrols for up to four years.
“All three parties see the value of this and a there’s a belief in doing it,” Wheeler said. “So we’ll find the resources to continue it.”
For more information on boating regulations and boater safety issues, educational materials are available at the public boat launch in Lakeside Park. The public can contact the Cazenovia Village Police Department.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.
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