Alabama Marine Police are getting tough on drugs. They're gearing up for a busy summer boating season.
In part one of our series on the Alabama Marine Police, we took you for a ride with the Orange Beach Patrol to see how they protect our waterways.
Patrolling Alabama’s coastal waters can be as different as night and day.
At night, the crew has to work in blackout conditions in an effort to maximize their night vision. Something as simple as a boater with a missing light can lead to a serious encounter.
Alabama Marine Patrol Officer Scott Lee said, “I'm looking at a boat over here on my port side; I couldn't tell if he had a stern light or not. It appears that he's up and running, but we need to go talk to him.”
The Marine Patrol uses their thermal infrared imaging cameras as an extra set of eyes to track the boat they're following. The boat is travelling above idle speed.
While they're explaining the no wake zone, officers detect alcohol on the boater's breath and see empty beer cans in the vessel. They instruct the man to board the Marine Patrol boat to take a field sobriety test.
“Obviously, he attempted to throw his marijuana pipe into the water as he emptied his pockets, as John was searching his pockets to see if he had any weapons,” Officer Lee continued.
The Marine Police take custody of the subject’s boat and both men are transported to the Marine Patrol Office.
“The operator will be charged with possession of marijuana, possession of paraphernalia and possible operating under the influence,” Officer Lee concluded.
The boater will now be a guest of the Baldwin County Jail until he posts bond. If convicted, he faces six months to a year in jail.
As with anyone charged of a crime, the boater arrested in this case is considered innocent until proven guilty.
Marine Police say it's all in a day's work and they'll be back out in force again on the hunt for drugs and drunken boaters.
Last year, the Marine Police arrested 140 boaters for boating under the influence and for drug possession.