Monday, March 25, 2024

Water Patrol on PWCs - AHAHAHAHAH

Representative Dr. Lisa Thomas (123rd District: which pretty much covers the lake area) introduced House Bill 2668 last month for the establishment of MO-POWR, a pretentious acronym for "Missouri Patrol on Wave Runners".  The purpose of which is for "establishing a law enforcement and first responder personal watercraft patrol..." to  "...promote water and boating safety on lakes having more than one thousand one hundred miles of shoreline." Hmm. Any other lakes in Missouri with over 1100 miles of shoreline? Unsurprisingly, the Lake of the Ozarks is the targeted body of water.

The bill goes on to define what a "personal watercraft" is, who the stakeholders of the task force are, training requirements, and funding.

The tasks of the patrol are spelled out as:

  1. Enforce state laws and regulations
  2. Deter unsafe and unlawful activities
  3. Provide first responder services
  4. Promote water and boating safety
  5. Provide public education directed toward recreational activities 

Okay, so that's the nuts and bolts of it.

Let's start with the obvious. The uniform of any law enforcement agency is intended to give a sense of professionalism and legitimacy. There is nothing dignified about riding a wet bike. Especially for a law enforcement officer that must wear a uniform. They'll simply look ridiculous. And what are you going to do with their necessary equipment, guns, radios, etc?

The practical limitations of using PWCs for law enforcement are pretty obvious, but let's break it down a bit more.

There is no room for support equipment for a first responder, let alone for tactical support of a serious law enforcement incident.

The idea of using a PWC assumes they are faster than a boat. Have you ever ridden a wetbike on the main channel during a busy holiday weekend? I have, and I can tell you that making any speed worthy of a first responder is nearly impossible, and by the time you've gone more than two miles, you're exhausted. Chasing down a go-fast boat? Puh-lease. About the only areas these things would be useful for is during events like the boat races or writing tickets in coves to other wetbikes for safety violations.

No, PWCs are completely impractical for law enforcement, and really only good for first responders such as beach lifeguards. But, they do present a show of force. A presence. Will boaters pay heed to restrictions on making wakes near docks if one of these little fellas is around? Probably, but beyond that and event patrols, they would be pretty useless. 

Most importantly though, I think the poor patrolman assigned to them will find that their days are very long, injuries frequent, and effectiveness dubious at best. I shudder to think of the number of workmen's compensation cases that will rise against the state.

A better idea would be to reform the State Police to once again have a separate Water Patrol division, with enough equipment, money, and training to properly patrol the Greatest Lake in the World.

Maybe throw a hydrofoil in for good measure if you really want to get down the lake in a hurry! Here's something (not a hydrofoil) that will get some respect on the water.