With the lake full and the weather beginning (hopefully) to take a turn for the better, many local residents and visitors will be heading to Lake Tapps for a day or two of boating fun.
And like the sun-worshippers and water skiers gearing up for another season of fun, the Bonney Lake Police Department’s Marine Services Unit is also getting ready to make sure everyone stays safe and obeys the laws this summer.
According to Sergeant James Keller, who heads the city’s MSU division, the primary focus for police is making sure every boat has at least one lifejacket per passenger and checking to see that boat operators have their state-issued boater education card, required for all boat operators under the age of 40.
Chief Dana Powers also said the MSU helps maintain safety on the water, stopping reckless drivers or nuisances before they get too out of hand.
“When we’re out there, people recognize that and behave,” Powers said.
And this year, the Bonney Lake police boat will be more visible than ever. For several years prior, the boat was kept at Powers’ home and then on private property near the park, something that routinely drew the attention of state auditors who told the city the boat should be kept on public property.
This year, the police boat is being moved to a dock at Allan Yorke Park. The dock was initially designated for police, but the designation seemed to have been forgotten until it was noticed again this year.
So this summer, park-goers and boaters putting their crafts into the water will see the Bonney Lake Police boat parked right at the boat launch, when it’s not out on patrol, of course.
Police moved the boat temporarily into location in April, but pulled it out of the water this past weekend for security purposes. A fence and 24-hour security camera are being installed at the location.
Keller said the MSU will slowly ramp up its efforts for summer until Memorial Day, when the plan is for the boat to be on the water Friday afternoons, all day Saturday and all day Sunday throughout the summer.
Keller said the 12-member MSU, all of whom must be certified twice a year at a police boating school in Eastern Washington will also be more accessible at the park, able to answer questions from boaters as well as do checks to ensure safety before boats hit the water.
“That’s what they’re down there for,” Keller said.
East Pierce Fire and Rescue sells lifejackets in all sizes at the reduced price of $14. The jackets are available at the Public Safety Building and the wearer must be present to ensure a custom fit.
In addition, lifejackets can be borrowed and returned at the station and at a kiosk at Allan Yorke Park.
“Get your stuff before you get in the water,” Powers advised, adding it’s better than ruining a day of fun with a ticket, or possibly worse.