The Rocky River Marine Patrol quietly stands guard 24/7 in boating season

July 30, 2018

The Rocky River Marine Patrol quietly stands guard 24/7 in boating season

ROCKY RIVER, Ohio -- The Rocky River Police Department’s Marine Patrol wants all to have a safe swimming and boating season. Halfway through this summer, the patrol has conducted one boating accident investigation, but has had no “recovery of evidence/drowning victims” this year, according to Sgt. Joe Boncek.

Boncek and eight to nine other police officers comprise the staff. They are on marine patrol part-time in addition to their regular, full-time duties in the city. Marine duty is primarily during the evening, weekends and holidays during the summer, said Boncek, but they are always available anytime -- and in all weather conditions or in the event of an emergency.

The unit also assists the United States Coast Guard and Ohio Department of Natural Resources as needed.

So far, said Boncek, it has been a fairly average year.

“We have inspected 80 boats so far, had about 15 search-and-rescue calls and will probably end up with about 20 to 25,” he said.

The primary operational area of the patrol includes Lake Erie, from Avon Point to Cleveland Harbor and out to the international border, which is 26 miles, he said.

Their primary mission includes:

-- Promote a safe boating environment and enhance public relations. “The goal is for people to be safe boaters. We also conduct inspections, sharing information on safety equipment, and answer any questions about navigation,” Boncek said.

-- Enforce all applicable laws. “The biggest one is life jackets. They must have life jackets on board, but they don’t have to wear them,” he said.

-- Conduct safety inspections/vessel stops and boardings. “We are looking mainly for safety equipment, reckless operation, or waterskiing without an observer in the boat in addition to the driver,” he said.

The patrol has its own docking facility on the west channel of the Rocky River, where its boat, the Argus V, is moored in the water during the season. It is stored indoors during the winter.

Boaters can stop by the police dock anytime personnel are present for any questions or for a free vessel safety inspection. 

Additional questions about the Rocky River Marine Patrol can be directed to Boncek at jboncek@rrcity.com or by calling 440-331-1234.

When asked what the most important tip for boaters is, Boncek said, “Always pay attention to the weather.”

He noted that conditions can change quickly on Lake Erie because it is so shallow. “If you see dark clouds, feel a sudden temperature change, hear thunder or see lightning, head on in to shore.”

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