Tulare County Supervisors authorize deal to switch lake patrol to the Sheriff's office

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Tulare County Supervisors authorized a deal Tuesday that would transfer lake patrol services from county civilian employees to the sheriff's office. (KFSN)

Just in time for Memorial Day weekend, Tulare County Supervisors authorized a deal Tuesday that would transfer lake patrol services from county civilian employees to the sheriff's office.

The waters of Lake Kaweah are calm now, but soon, the pace will pick up.
And the Tulare County Sheriff's Office will be there to make sure everyone stays on an even keel.

"(The lake) hasn't been filled up this much in a long time so it's going to be fun but let's keep it safe out here," said Deputy Jairo Perez.

Perez says since the sheriff's office started to patrol Lake Kaweah and Lake Success last summer, they've received a warm welcome.

From lake-goers and fishermen like Gary Wasson, who says all of his friends love the fact the sheriff's department is now patrolling the lakes.

"When they see lake patrol versus the word sheriff, it's a lot better thing when you see the law here," Wasson said.

"The community was ready for it, especially those that are up there who see that drunk boating taking place, we gotta get rid of that," Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said. "We gotta make those waterways safe."

With the expectation that Tulare County will shift lake patrol services from civilian employees to the sheriff's office, Boudreaux says highly trained and skilled deputies can now hand out citations, make arrests, and educate the public about boating safety.

"And I think that's been lacking in the past, we would like to take that a step further, and make sure people are aware what they're required to do while boating on the water," Boudreaux said.

Since the sheriff's pilot program began last summer, there haven't been any drownings or crashes on either of the lakes, but there have been more than 700 stops.

During those stops, deputies will perform a safety inspection of their boat, checking for life jackets, a fire extinguisher, and even a horn.

Two deputies will be assigned to a sheriff's boat on each lake.

The sheriff is calling for a total of eight new deputies over the next few years to make the new unit effective.

Four civilian employees who have previously patrolled the lakes will be affected by the change and the county is currently meeting with them to discuss what happens next.
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