Police in Bonney Lake have a new tool to help fight crime this summer – a new, 21-foot aluminum boat that will replace the department’s aging fiberglass model.
“It’s something we’ve needed for a long time,” Police Chief Mike Mitchell said.
The City Council March 9 unanimously approved the purchase of the new boat at a cost of $110,000. The money was taken during drug seizures so there is no cost to taxpayers.
“This is a way in which the drug seizure laws and the damage drugs do to our society actually give back to our society,” said Councilmember Mark Hamilton during discussion on the purchase.
Mitchell called the new boat a “definite benefit” for the community “without costing them anything.”
According to Mitchell, the boat will come fully outfitted from Bellingham-based Aluminum Chamber Boats. It is a display model that normally sells for $140,000.
“It’s got a few hours on it,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell said the purchase has been a priority for him since becoming chief. The department’s current boat was purchased more than 15 years ago at a cost of $35,000 and has cost the city more than $30,000 in repairs during the past four years, including a hole in the boat’s fiberglass hull.
Mitchell also said that an additional $21,000 in repairs was needed to make the boat seaworthy for this year’s boating season.
“It was just worn out,” Mitchell said. “It wasn’t nickel and diming us, it was $50- and $100-billing us to death.”
Mitchell said the city also receives money from the state for boating safety on Lake Tapps, part of licensing fees shared with the city. Mitchell said the amount comes to about $20,000 a year, but the state of the current boat could have put that money out of reach.
“Had we not had a boat this year, we’d have lost out on that money,” he said.
Mitchell said another advantage of the boat is an aluminum hull, as opposed to the fiberglass. A fiberglass hull cannot be beached, but the aluminum hull will allow police to take the boat onto the shore and jump out if need be. The new boat also has an air bladder cushion so the police can sidle up next to other boats without worrying about damaging them.
The boat will also come with spotlights, which will allow the police to do more night patrols. Mitchell reminded council there was a night fatality on Lake Tapps two years ago.
“This is an opportunity to have a law enforcement vessel that’s made for enforcement and is more versatile,” Mitchell said.
The city hopes to take delivery of the new boat today, Wednesday. New radios will be installed, as well as Bonney Lake markings. The boat will be used in training exercises in the Tri-Cities before being launched in Lake Tapps later this year.