State Parks Boating Program presents safety awards

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission Boating Program announces awards honoring law enforcement officers around the state for outstanding performance and service.

The 2012 Recreational Boating Safety Marine Law Enforcement awards are presented each year among 50 approved law enforcement agencies throughout the state. The programs are comprised of certified police officers who perform a full range of law enforcement duties, including patrolling all waterways to enforce state laws and boating safety regulations.

The Washington State Parks Recreational Boating Program is administered by Washington State Parks to promote enjoyable, safe, environmentally responsible recreation on Washington’s waters. The program works in partnership with local and state government, businesses, non-profit organizations, citizen action groups and the boating public. State Parks’ principle boating safety partners are local government law enforcement officers.

"This is the 13th year the State Parks Boating Program has presented local law enforcement officers with these awards for great accomplishments in recreational boating safety,” said Wade Alonzo, State Parks boating law administrator. “These awards are to recognize outstanding individuals for their continued efforts to educate and enforce boating laws that are in place to reduce casualties in our state.”

The Recreational Boating Safety Lifesaving Award of the Year: This award recognizes officers whose quick and courageous actions resulted in preventing injury or death in the case of a recreational boater. Ten officers received the 2012 award:

  • Deputy Rich Poppie and Deputy Rich Schlaman of Douglas County Sherriff’s Office were honored for saving a family of three after they were thrown off their personal watercraft on the Columbia River. All three family members were struggling to stay above the water. One of the victims was not wearing a life jacket.
  • Seattle Harbor Patrol Unit’s Squad-D, including Sgt. Mike Pugel, Officer Erik Salisbury, Officer James Johnson, Officer Thomas Monroe, and Officer Mark Mulvanny from the Seattle Harbor Patrol Unit’s Squad-D were given the award for swift action that saved 12 people when two Lake Union Crew boats capsized. A Lake Union Crew coach called the harbor patrol after the crew members fell into the frigid 44-degree waters of Lake Union. None of the victims was wearing a life jacket.
  • Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) officers Dan Klump, Eric Oswald and William Smith received the lifesaving award for the rescue of two young girls during an unusual and unanticipated storm that hit Chelan County in July. The girls were on Lake Chelan when their small craft began to take on water and was on the verge of sinking. The girls were not wearing life jackets.

The Recreational Boating Safety Education Merit Award went to Pend Oreille County Sheriff’s Office for its success in increasing boater education outreach. The unit, made up of 12 certified marine enforcement deputies and a sergeant, works to support the state’s boating safety education efforts. In 2012, they conducted six Adventures in Boating Washington education courses, resulting in 50 boaters receiving the mandatory boater education card. The Pend Oreille officers continue to reach out to boaters at local boat shows, and community and scouting events.

The Recreational Boating Safety Marine Law Enforcement Program of the Year went to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. The department’s marine enforcement unit includes 12 boater education instructors, a sergeant, a corporal and 10 deputies. All are marine certified and work to patrol Spokane County’s waterways during the summer. In 2012, they contacted boaters and wrote a total of 937 inspections and assisted a total of 44 vessel operators. The unit, including its two civilian boater safety education instructors, conducted many public education efforts, including staffing booths at local boat shows and community events. They taught 13 Adventures in Boating Washington courses, resulting in 204 boaters receiving the mandatory boater education card.

The Recreational Boating Safety Marine Law Enforcement Officer of the Year is Sgt. Phil Johnson from WDFW, awarded for his dedication and tireless efforts in recreational boating safety. Johnson’s efforts helped to establish WDFW’s Recreational Boating Safety program as the premiere curriculum in the state.

Special service commitment awards went to Jim French and Mark Kenny of Olympia, both with the Washington State Parks Boating Program. The program honored the two State Parks employees for their long service and commitment to boating safety. French, who coordinates boating education, has been with State Parks since 1984, after having worked with the Ohio Division of Watercraft. Kenny served as an officer in the Ohio Division of Watercraft before joining State Parks in 1986. He currently coordinates law enforcement and grant funds in the Boating Program.

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