By LAURA WEICK The City of Warwick Police Department's Marine Unit/Dive Team now has two "e;new to them"e; patrol boats at no cost to city taxpayers. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management's Environmental Police gave Warwick police two
The City of Warwick Police Department’s Marine Unit/Dive Team now has two “new to them” patrol boats at no cost to city taxpayers.
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management’s Environmental Police gave Warwick police two Rosborough Rough Water 9.11 30-foot boats. Additional equipment to outfit the boats was purchased through asset forfeiture funds. The police department did not have to pay anything from their allocated budget for the boats. If new the boats would be worth about $190,000 each, according to Warwick Police Chief Rick Rathbun. One of the boats is docked at the Safe Harbors dock in Cowesett, and the other will be docked after being launched at Winstead Marina in Warwick Cove.
The 13-person Warwick Police Marine Unit conducts patrol, enforce boating laws and help with evidence recovery and investigations on and under water alongside the police department’s Dive Team. Commanded by Lt. Robert Hart, the vessels will monitor boaters boating under the influence of alcohol and drugs, as well as jet skiing safety. Over the weekend the unit stopped ten boaters for possible boating under the influence (there were no charges), and they escorted multiple jet skiers to shore for not having a license.
Police have historically not patrolled waters year-round, but Rathbun said that they would patrol until at least this fall, and possibly into early winter. They will patrol during weekends and times of high waterway traffic.
According to the Warwick Police Department’s website, the department’s current watercraft includes a 25-foot Boston Whaler, a 12-foot center console boat and two inflatable Zodiac boats.
Rathbun said police met with Mayor Joseph Solomon shortly after taking he took office to discuss the police department’s marine enforcement abilities and equipment. Solomon concluded that the police would need more equipment and increased staffing in order to address a need for additional marine patrol.
“The nearly 40 miles of coastline that traverse the city's border make the inclusion of a marine unit here in Warwick not only logical but a necessity when you consider that our public safety mission doesn't end at the water's edge,” Rathbun said at a press conference at Aspray Boat House Wednesday afternoon.
Divers are trained in specialized areas including vehicle recovery, rescue and ice diving. Previously, the police used their marine recovery team as their dive team at the time, but the Marine Unit/Dive Team would have people with experience operating vessels as well as divers.
“We have a team of divers and officers to now man in our newly formed marine unit,” Rathbun said. “They bring experience to the table that was garnered during previous time in the United States Navy, Merchant Marines, United States Coast Guard and years of operating both commercial and personal vessels. We're completing some continued training with our Island Department of Environmental Management Police Department along with the United States Coast Guard and have implemented appropriate policy procedures to ensure the success and use of this marine unit.”
Solomon was scheduled to speak at the event, but did not make an appearance due to an undisclosed, last-minute matter at City Hall. No other public officials attended the press conference