Chelan County Water Patrol Deputy Recognized With Statewide Honor
A Chelan County deputy is being recognized as the Marine Law Enforcement Officer of the Year in Washington.
Deputy Garrett Churchill runs the sheriff's office marine patrol program, and he’s been named Washington State Parks Recreational Boating Safety Marine Law Enforcement Officer of the Year.
Sheriff's Chief of Patrol Ryan Moody says Churchill has brought the program back after it was on probation the past couple of years.
“Now we’re number three in all the state for number of contacts and activity on the water,” said Moody. “And that’s mostly due to Deputy Churchill’s efforts in turning this program around.”
The Chelan County marine patrol landed on probation because of a lack of activity, which has dramatically changed under Churchill's watch.
Moody said the sheriff’s department marine patrol had been plagued by understaffing and dedication to its operations until Churchill was assigned to head up the program along with his direct superior Sgt. Rob Huddleston.
Being on probation meant funding for the marine program was in jeopardy from Washington State Parks, which oversees and implements Washington's Recreational Boating Safety Program.
In addition, Moody says Churchill enforces boating laws on the water but is also in charge of marine search and rescue operations.
"He'll get a number of calls out on the river and on the lakes for people in distress or people that have broken down, that kind of stuff," Moody said. "He'll go out and rescue them, and sometimes have to bring their boats back and that kind of thing."
Churchill spends most of his time making sure boaters are obeying the rules and laws on busy Lake Chelan. There’s an issue on the lake with a no wake zone which is often violated. Churchill also makes frequent contact with people who are renting boats and jet skis to make sure they’re familiar with marine laws.
He also handles patrols on Lake Wenatchee and parts of the Columbia River.
During the winter, Churchill will deal with duck hunters on the river to make sure they’re in compliance with requirement for water apparatus known as duck blinds.
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Gallery Credit: Ryan Antoinette Valenzuela