Those weren’t thrill-seeking tourists you saw zipping across the water in front of Hawks Cay Resort on Duck Key this past week- they were Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputies and reserves training for their personal watercraft (PWC) certification.
Deputies and reserves who passed the course will now be allowed to take part in on-the-water patrols as well as search and rescue missions from the four, state-of-the-art Yamaha Jet Skis that were recently donated to the department by Riva South in Key Largo.
With lobster mini season on the horizon, and the summer sandbar parties in full swing, the PWCs give officers the ability to cover large areas of water in a short period of time, and go unrecognized.
“They’re a great asset to the department,” said Marathon Deputy Syd Whitehouse. “We will be doing heavy patrol during lobster season and they allow us to be more incognito on the water. We want people to know we’re out there, but we also want poachers to be looking over their shoulders every time they see a jet ski go by.”
The PWC training course, which was open to law enforcement officers throughout Monroe County, began with classroom training inside a Hawks Cay boardroom before officers headed out to the resort’s saltwater lagoon for a swim test. Officers were required to swim two lengths of the lagoon before they could operate a PWC.
“There’s always a chance you might fly off one of these,” said Captain Lou Caputo. “You need to be able to swim back to your machine, especially against the current.”
Once the officers passed the swim test they hopped on the PWCs and hit the water. Officers had to complete an obstacle course, a high speed chase, and a simulated search a rescue where they had to form a search grid and find a missing person in the water.
“We try and prepare as best we can for real life scenarios,” said Whitehouse.
Of the four new jet skis two will be stationed in Key Largo and two will remain in marathon. The PWCs are red and embossed with the Monroe County Sherriff’s logo on the bow.
Whitehouse urges boaters to be safe and alert while on the water, especially during mini season, and to throw your vessel into neutral as soon as you see an officer on a PWC approaching.
“We’re on the water for your protection and safety,” said Whitehouse.
The Monroe County Sherriff’s Office would like to thank Riva South for the generous Yamaha Jet Ski donation, as well as Hawk’s Cay Resort for letting them use their facilities to conduct the certification course.
MSCO Captain Lou Caputo instructed the deputies on basic mechanics of the PWC. The deputies recently completed a two day PWC course at Hawks Cay.