Truckee police beefs up Donner Lake patrol with patrol boat

Renee Shadforth

Boaters and personal watercraft users should expect a greater law enforcement presence on Donner Lake this summer.

The Truckee Police Department has beefed up its plans for patrolling the lake in coming months, with increased man-hours dedicated to monitoring the waters and a 21-foot patrol boat on the way.

Although boaters will see more of the Truckee Police on the lake, they shouldn’t expect to get more citations, police officials said.

“Our goal is not to go out there and write tickets,” Sgt. Tim Hargrove said. “The mere presence of the officer on the lake is usually enough to deter illegal behavior.”

The increased police presence came after Donner Lake residents asked department officials for more patrol because residents believed boaters and watercraft users were not following waterway guidelines, said Cmdr. Scott Berry.

Donner Lake-resident Charlie White was one of the residents requesting more patrol, because watercraft users were getting “over-exuberant and not following the standard rules of the lake,” he said.

Although White is pleased with the increased patrol, he doesn’t want to see Donner Lake become over-regulated.

“We don’t want to see the Gestapo out there either. We want to see some common sense by patrol people,” he said.

For Sgt. Hargrove, increased patrol means an increase in safety measures on Donner Lake, which “which is small and can get kind of narrow, and boating accidents to be more deadly than car accidents,” he said.

“If you get in a wreck on the water and someone is thrown out of the boat, the chances of death are really high,” he added.

Last year, there were two non-fatal accidents on Donner Lake, Truckee Police reported. According to a report by the California Department of Boating and Waterways, there were three injury accidents on all Nevada County waterways in 2002.

The police department’s new 21-foot, aluminum-well patrol boat was obtained through a grant from the California Department of Boating and Waterways. Although the department is still waiting for the boat to arrive – Hargrove expects the boat to be delivered by the July Fourth weekend – all Truckee patrol officers are currently learning how to properly patrol the waterways.

The training, which includes about three hours in the lake and three hours in the classroom, will include boating and watercraft laws, appropriate boat handling and how to properly handle emergency situations.

A full-time firefighter, from the Truckee Fire Department, will also be assigned to the boat for weekend and high-use times, Hargrove said.

The Truckee Police Department currently patrols the lake with two personal watercrafts on a law enforcement loan program from Anytime Power Sports.

For anyone interested in more information on boating safety, call the Truckee Police Department at 550-2323 or visit them at 10183 Airport Road.

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