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Marine Academy Helps Officers Build Life-Saving Skills
For Immediate Release -3/21/12
Marine law enforcement officers and other water-enforcement agencies from around the state will converge on Emigrant Lake in Jackson County, Oregon, for an intensive two-week training course beginning April 2 and running until April 13.  During the training, officers learn about state boating laws, rules and regulations, identify intoxicated boat operators, practiced operating their patrol boats and equipment skillfully; all while focusing on officer safety and survival.  This comprehensive training includes education in the classroom and practical scenarios on the water.
“This is a safe training environment that replicates situations officers will routinely experience,” said Dale Flowers, Law Enforcement Training Coordinator for the Oregon State Marine Board.  “It gives officers a chance to build their confidence and skills on the water.”  Flowers added, “Not to mention, what these students learn looks easy when they’re out in the field, but in reality, these skills can take years to acquire.”  Many of the Marine Academy instructors are seasoned deputies who have seen and done it all.  “This is the right environment for students to make mistakes and learn from them.  It’s an eye-opening experience, because it’s really physically and mentally demanding,” Flowers said.
The first week of training is primarily classroom focused, learning policies and marine law.  Students also spend a day in the pool learning self-rescue and survival swimming techniques, key skills in the event they are forced to enter the water.  During the second week, officers hit the water to improve boat handling skills in an obstacle course and slalom run and learn on-the-water scenarios that focus on officer safety and survival.  Students will practice detecting and performing standardized field sobriety testing for boaters suspected of boating under the influence of intoxicants (BUII).  Scenarios include boaters portraying intoxicated operators or passengers.  Students also learn what to do when encountering boaters with mechanical problems, and even more serious, life and death rescue situations under less than ideal conditions.  Instructors guide students through various skill activities, and correct or critique them as needed.  “Students can stay out there for as long as they need to, to feel comfortable.  Being confident is a big part of the job,” Flowers adds.  “They’ve got to be able to operate a boat against the current, help a struggling victim, get them to safety, all while keeping themselves out of danger.  This takes a lot of skill.”
The Oregon State Marine Board holds the Marine Safety and Law Enforcement (MSLE) academy each spring for newly hired marine officers. Twenty-six Oregon counties as well as members of Oregon State Police, U.S. Forest Service, and Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fisheries personnel will participate.
For more information about the Marine Board's Law Enforcement Program, visit www.boatoregon.com/OSMB/BoatLaws.index.shtml