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Castaic cops get new patrol boat

Fleet doubles patrol capability

Posted: November 27, 2008 7:10 p.m.
Updated: November 28, 2008 4:55 a.m.

The Los Angeles County Police 26 ACB patrol boat patrols Castaic Lake on Thanksgiving. The police will receive another boat in the coming month.

 
Police patrolling the waters of Castaic Lake are doubling their presence with the addition of a second patrol boat.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion Tuesday accepting an $80,000 grant from the state's Department of Boating and Waterways, allowing county police to buy a second police patrol boat and trailer for Castaic Lake.

"Having an additional boat there is critical to saving someone's life," said acting Chief of Police Steve Lieberman of the Los Angeles County Police.

"This is very important," he said. "Castaic Lake is one of the busiest lakes in the county if not the state."

The new boat is to replace one that was recently taken out of service, Lieberman said.

Having only one patrol boat to ensure water safety, enforce the law and monitor a variety of water activities from fishing to wake-boarding was difficult, he said.

"There have been some enforcement challenges on the lake in the past," Lieberman said. "We've had incidents of speeding boaters. We've had boating accidents and there have been tragedies.

"A lot of times we work hand-in-hand with the lifeguards."

The importance of patrolling Castaic Lake came to the fore of community concern in May 2004 when 9-year-old Brenda Delia Arroyo drowned there while swimming.

Officials with the county's Department of Parks and Recreation pointed out at the time that park police had been patrolling the shoreline every half hour warning swimmers to get out of the water.

Bob Lewis, who has served on the Castaic Area Town Council for eight years, said a boating incident in January 2002 that claimed the lives of four men heightened the need for a patrol boat on Castaic Lake.

"Enforcing speed limits is important," Lewis said, recalling the incident in which an experimental craft was being tested on the lake.

"That was prior to the police boat," he said. "After that, we went from no boat to one boat."

In her pitch to convince the Board of Supervisors to accept the $80,000 grant, Los Angeles County Chief of Police Margaret A. York wrote: "Purchase of the boat and trailer will support boating safety and enforcement activities."

Superintendent of Castaic Lake Lori Bennett knows the importance of having a second police patrol boat.

"Right now, when they have a problem with their boat, they go without," she said about the police boat moored at the lake. "They end up borrowing an old boat from the lifeguards."

Bennett, who recently won a seat on the Castaic Area Town Council, said she's seen only a handful of law enforcement incidents at the lake.

"We feel we have a really safe facility here," she said.

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