KIMT News 3 – Summer is a busy time of year for all law enforcement officials, but it’s an especially hectic season for water patrols.
Conservation officers with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and water patrol deputies with various counties, have been busy making their routine rounds on the water. They patrol waterways and check in with boaters to make sure they are properly outfitted with life jackets and other safety tools.
Matt Levorson, the Freeborn County Water Patrol Deputy tells us that this year has been fairly quiet for authorities in our area. Even though he has been busy checking in with boaters, Levorson says he has been pleasantly surprised by the amount of safety precautions people have been taking.
“During the summer months we are obviously looking for safety things like if the crafts are outfitted with life jackets, fire extinguishers, things like that for general operation safety,” Levorson explains. He says that for the most part, the boats he has been checking on have had everything they should have on board.
Life jackets, fire extinguishers, and proper registration are all important, but Levorson says he also spends a lot of his time checking to be sure no one is impaired while operating a boat. Since drinking and boating is legal in both Iowa and Minnesota, both Levorson and Ben Bergman, a conservation officer with the Iowa DNR say it’s an issue they see all summer long.
There have been a number of issues involving alcohol on Clear Lake this summer, and Bergman says he believes it’s a shame that people can’t enjoy the water more responsibly. He says that cracking down on alcohol consumption is “where their efforts are” and that he says that their improvements to their enforcement could make a difference down the road.
“I think over the years, things have gotten better” Bergman says, “but, is there room for improvement? Absolutely.”
This summer, the water patrol teams on Clear Lake have been working to change the way they carry out sobriety testing. They have developed new tests that can be done on board, out on the water, which will eliminate the need to bring boaters back to shore to carry out tests.