LPSO Marine Division helping keep boaters safe

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POSTED: Thursday, May 15, 2014 - 6:53pm

UPDATED: Friday, May 16, 2014 - 10:34am

The Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office's Marine Division has a simple mission: keep people safe on the water. Deputies check boats to make sure they have the required number of life jackets, and that no on is drinking and boating.

Deputies say they are not out to ruin anyone's weekend.

"We want them to bring their families down here. We want them to have a good time, " Cpl. Ronnie Sharp, LPSO Marine Division, said.

They just want to make sure you have safe fun on the water.

"They are there every single weekend when summer starts. Summer don't start in June," Sheriff Jason Ard said. "It usually starts in April, and we start having pretty weather. "

Sheriff Ard noted that, over the past few years, the Marine Division increased its patrols, and it has helped significantly decrease the number of death on the waterways in the parish.

"It's nothing for you now to see six to seven deputies on the water, where five, six years ago, you were lucky to see to our three," Ard said.

"Feels great. It means we are doing something right," Sharp said.

Deputies in the Marine Division work longer shifts during the summer, and they are ready to help at popular spots on the water.

"We try to stay in the crowded areas to where, if something does happen, that we don't have a long time response to be able to get to them to treat them and do whatever we have to do," Sharp said.

Some of the areas they are most likely to patrol include the sandbars on Lake Maurepas and waterfront businesses.

"Any given time, we can have several hundred people on each sandbar," Sharp said. "We can have several, up to 300-plus at each one of our bars, that the only way to get to them was by boat."

The deputies do more than check for boaters under the influence. They help rescue stranded boaters, save injured swimmers, and give directions to those who are lost.

Sharp had this advice for boaters: "Make sure you have all the life jackets for everybody in the boat. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher... have all your paper work and if you got all of that, and you are being responsible. You're staying on your side of the river. That's a good day for us. "

The deputies' jobs do not stop when their shifts end, either. They are on call 24/7, and they are ready to jump in their boats and help out.

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