Folsom Lake Boat Patrols Busy on Memorial Day

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FOLSOM -- Police responded to several calls for service Memorial Day afternoon on Folsom Lake while thousands of people spent the holiday on the water and along the shores.

FOX40 rode along in a patrol boat for a few hours with a team of California State Park peace officer lifeguards.

“The mission of our department is to provide for high-quality outdoor recreational opportunities. And if people are going to be out, whether it be in the park or in the water, we’ll be out ensuring that there's opportunities for safety,” said Officer Joshua Neff.

Much of the officers' time is spent educating boaters and operators of personal watercraft about safety requirements.

During FOX40's ride-along, the officers found some safety violations on the water, arrested an intoxicated combative man along the shoreline and responded to reports of stolen firearms from a vehicle near the Salmon Falls Bridge. While officers from partnering agencies investigated the firearm theft on land, the State Park boat patrol ushered other boats out of the area for safety.

Alcohol is prohibited along the beaches of Folsom Lake but allowed on boats on the water. The blood alcohol legal limit for operating a boat is .08, just as it is for driving a vehicle on the road.

“However, what people don’t understand is that a .08 when you’re on a vessel is quite different than when you’re on a roadway because you’re exposed to the elements of sun, wind, wave action throughout the day," Officer Neff explained. "People usually aren’t hydrating properly or eating properly and that alcohol is going to affect them much more than it would than if they were on a roadway."

The officers would like the public to understand that police are not trying to spoil anybody's fun at the lake.

“We want to make sure that everyone has equal opportunity to have a safe and fun day out on the lake," Neff said. "And if we need to, we’ll step in and educate or enforce.”

Before taking a boat or any personal watercraft out on the water, the boating public is encouraged to visit the California Division of Boating and Waterways website. There they will learn safe boating practices and legal requirements.

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