Truckee Police’s boat launches its maiden voyage | SierraSun.com

Truckee Police’s boat launches its maiden voyage

Renee Shadforth

Donning his uniform, shorts and a pair of sandals, Sgt. Tim Hargrove idles in Donner Lake behind the wheel of the Truckee Police Department’s newest patrol vehicle.

Last week Hargrove and the department received the long-awaited gift: a new 21-foot, aluminum-well patrol boat, stocked to the brim with extensive first-aid equipment, a CD player, a global positioning system and a 496 big-block engine with 425 horsepower and weighing in at approximately 5,000 pounds.

The boat might seem excessive for a small lake like Donner, Hargrove said, but the department will have to respond to incidents on larger waterways, like Lake Tahoe, where a bigger boat will be necessary.

A grant from the California Department of Boating and Waterways paid for $45,000 of the $63,000 boat and equipment. Other grants paid for the balance of the cost. Hargrove did a lot of research prior to making his bid to Chico, Calif.-based Design Concepts, which built the boat for the department.

“I called up every boating person I could find. I tried to get a lot of in-depth feelings about boats – what works and what doesn’t,” Hargrove said. “The boat manufacturer said he’d never had a bid like that. It was so thorough.”

Right down to the tow bar (“And it’s not a ski bar,” he joked), Hargrove said he hopes the boat will promote a safer environment on Donner Lake. Last year there were two injury accidents on the lake, according to Truckee Police.

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“The instant this boat is out here, this lake mellows out,” he said.

The boat was officially unveiled Monday morning when police Chief Dan Boon, Truckee Mayor Ted Owens, town councilman Ron Florian, town Manager Steve Wright and Hargrove took the boat out for a spin.

All officers in the department can train for the patrol boat. Since last week, they’ve spent quite a bit of time on the lake, mostly practicing slow-speed maneuvers, tight turns and stopping.

“They have to know how to approach another $50,000 boat safely,” Cmdr. Scott Berry said.

Once the officers are trained, they will patrol the lake for 20 hours during the week and 16 hours on the weekend until Labor Day. They’ll be handing out safety equipment and making sure people are following boating laws. They will also be watching out for rental boats, because “that’s where people are going to be who aren’t as familiar with the rules,” Hargrove said.

Still, he stresses the department is not out there to write tickets.

“Boating safety – that’s the big thing,” he said. “We’re not out here to ruin your weekend.”