KY Senate Bill Would Reign In Water Patrols

Feb 14, 2014


Enforcement efforts of Kentucky water patrol officers could soon be held to a revised standard.  Proponents say a Senate bill would help rein-in some overzealous actions on the state’s waterways.

The official start of the summer boating season may be a few months off, but in just over a month, boats will start popping up on Kentucky lakes.  

Bill Jasper operates a Lake Cumberland marina stocked with 60 houseboats for rent and some 575 boat slips.  He says about 80 percent of his business comes from out of state.

“And they’re coming in telling stories about what happened to them and they don’t come back.  They’ll say this happened to me.  I’m never coming back to Lake Cumberland and we’ve seen it happen.”

Bill sponsor Chris Girdler says some houseboats on the lake are being trespassed on to enforce laws that a lot of times don’t exist.  

The legislation  states that boating enforcement officers will step onto boats only if the officer has reasonable and articulable suspicion that a violation has occurred.  Acting State Fish and Wildlife Resources Commissioner Matt Sawyers says his agency is taking steps to better ensure positive boater-water patrol relationships.

“We are proposing to install pocket cameras on all conversation officers on Lake Cumberland.  These would work like dash cams do on other law enforcement vehicles.  When an officer has any interaction with the public, he or she will turn the camera on and will download it to a server at the end of the day.”

Marina operator Bill Jasper says the measure also calls for annual hospitality and tourism training of officers.  He doesn’t think this policy change would diminish appropriate enforcement efforts.  Jasper says “nobody wants drunk boaters on the lake.  It’s bad for tourism.  It’s bad for everyone and safety comes first.”  The legislation passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday (Thursday.)