BCSO launches new Lake patrol boat

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By John Barnhart

    A grant through the Department of Homeland Security has allowed the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office to purchase a new Lake patrol boat.


    And it’s up and running.
    The department officially launched the boat for Memorial Day weekend and patrols from the Sheriff’s Office will continue to man it on weekends through Labor Day. The patrols will be focused on crime prevention and safety.
    The Commonwealth Preparedness Office of the Governor’s Office, announced in July of 2009 that the Smith Mountain Lake Dam facility was being recognized as a possible terrorist target.  Because of this designation, local law enforcement agencies which were responsible for providing security on and around the Lake and dam, would be eligible to receive grant funds through the Buffer Zone Protection Program, (BZPP).
    These grant funds are to be utilized to increase security to “critical” facilities throughout the country, which included Smith Mountain Lake.  The SML Dam Facility Project was a cooperative venture made up of Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police and Bedford County Sheriff’s Office. The entire project qualified for $190,000. 
    In November 2009, the Bedford County Board of Supervisors approved the Sheriff’s Office request to apply to purchase a patrol boat, and all-terrain vehicle and night vision equipment totaling $82,000.  BZPP funding, which required no local match, enabled law enforcement agencies to secure equipment to be used to reduce or mitigate any identified vulnerabilities.
    The official award letter notifying the BCSO of the grant approval was received in January 2011.  
    “This grant couldn’t have come at a better time,” Sheriff Mike Brown stated this week. “It will not only allow us to replace our old 2001 Regal patrol boat, it will  provide our deputies with modern equipment that will better provide proactive law enforcement patrols on the Lake. This grant also comes at a time when the county budget could not have provided the funds to purchase this much needed equipment.” 
    Sheriff Brown added that, with the grant, “We killed two birds with one grant…buying the much needed equipment for the Lake and saving our taxpayers their hard earned dollars.”
    “It’s state of the art,” he said of the new boat.
    The Bedford County Sheriff’s Office received delivery of its new patrol boat, a Pro-Line Model 2300 Center Console Boat with a 250 HP out board engine and trailer, in April. Training on the new boat took place earlier this month. Sixteen deputies make up the Lake patrols.
    David Agee, maintenance supervisor with Appalachian Power, was at last week’s launch. He praised the BCSO for getting the boat, to both preserve the company’s interests at the Lake as well as those of the residents and tourists who utilize it for recreation.
    “We just needed a new boat,” noted Major Ricky Gardner. “I’m real excited about it.”
    He said many of the deputies, like himself, already have experience on the Lake which helps in their patrolling efforts. He said the new boat will be better on gas than the one the department had been using.
    “It should be more of a presence,” Gardner said of the Sheriff’s Office boat being recognizable at the Lake. “We’re out here to make sure people operate their boats safely.”
    District 2 supervisor Chuck Neudorfer was also at Thursday’s launch. He said it’s important for the BCSO to have a presence at the Lake, which makes up the county’s southern border.
    “It’s quite a spectacular craft,” he said. “It certainly makes sense to have a law enforcement presence on the water. It shows the county takes the Lake very seriously.”
    The grant also allowed for the purchase of a Polaris Sportsman 850 all-terrain vehicle and trailer and night vision equipment for utilization on and off the Lake.