Law enforcement officers jump into Oregon Marine Board academyWARRENTON - Cullaby Lake came alive with the sound of boats starting their engines on a cloudy, calm day last week. It wasn't the roar of speed boats. It was the controlled sound of sheriffs' boats from nearly every county in Oregon.

The Oregon Marine Board conducted a two-week Marine Law Enforcement Academy at Rilea Armed Forces Training Center, Sunset Pool and Cullaby Lake during the first two weeks of May. Officers from Oregon State Police and sheriff departments participated in the academy.

"This is a partnership for everybody," said Jyll Smith, public information officer for the Marine Board.SUE CODY - The Daily Astorian

The U.S. Coast Guard's Group Station Astoria performed rescue demonstrations for Oregon State Police and sheriff deputies from around the state last week at Cullaby Lake as part of training at the Marine Law Enforcement Academy.Through the Law Enforcement Academy, the board trains patrol officers in the most efficient and effective techniques for boat handling, safe boating practices, interpretation and application of marine law and numerous officer safety issues.

Fifty-seven completed the academy. They came from Malheur, Wallowa, Deschutes, Clackamas, Multnomah, Jackson and numerous other counties.SUE CODY - The Daily Astorian

Deschutes County Deputy Sheriff Scott Sogge practices throwing a rescue line to a target on Cullaby Lake.On the lake, participants watched a demonstration of a U.S. Coast Guard rescue with a Jayhawk helicopter. A "victim" was lowered into the water and "rescued" by a Coast Guard swimmer. Lt. Tony Kennie from Group Astoria gave demonstrations of various marine flares - smoke floats, distress flares (orange and red) practice flares (white), parachute flares. The commercial flares burned 30 times brighter than the ones the typical boater carries. "Which do you want?" he asked the crowd. The commercial ones, everyone agreed.

Experienced, trained boat handlers instructed trainees in maneuvers, such as reversing into a boat slip, approaching and docking, throwing a rescue rope, emergency stops, avoiding hazards and towing.Holding a plastic gun in his hand, Clackamas Sheriff's Deputy Dick Jacobs surfaces after swimming through a hoop suspended in water, part of an obstacle course that took place recently as part of training at the Sunset Pool in Seaside.

LORI ASSA-The Daily AstorianWasco County Sheriff Deputy Roger Pearce patrols the Deschutes and Columbia rivers in addition to Clear Lake, Pine Hollow and other small lakes. He had Deputy Scott Sogge from Deschutes County as a student. Sogge has experience in snowmobile patrol, but little experience in marine patrol.

Pearce, talking about slow-speed maneuvering, told Sogge, "Control is what it's all about. You have to have control at a busy dock or to get in between busy boats." Sogge jockeyed the boat forward and reverse to move laterally. "It's not like driving a car," Pearce said, "It steers like a forklift. There is muscle memory involved."

Safety is the No. 1 priority for marine patrol. The primary problem Pearce faces is not enough life jackets on boats, he said. He also checks licenses. As the boat pulled up to another boat, the officers discussed the problem of being on patrol alone. Often backup can be a half hour or longer away. "We have to live or die by the rule: 'Don't get yourself into anything you can't get out of,'" Pearce said.

Many people think the job is cushy, Pearce said, then pointed out that officers need to know the law, know how to enforce it, have good communication skills and know how to run a boat. "They think they want this job, but when the wind is blowing 50-miles-per-hour and the rain is blowing sideways, that's when others get into trouble and it's my job to go out and rescue them."

The trainees went through mock rescue scenarios and learned how to spot and test boaters under the influence. Classroom instruction was held for laws and regulations, safety, boating basics and rescues. Pool instruction involved rescuing intoxicated swimmers.

The Marine Board provides registration, education, information, access, marine patrol services and has rule-making authority for regulating boating.

The training is held every year. Clatsop County has been the training site for many years because has a great set up with housing at Camp Rilea and many nearby lakes, Smith said.

"It seems like everyone went away happy, they learned a lot," said Smith. "They gained more confidence, which was the goal of the academy."