MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

March 20, 2013

New OHP boats help public


— Visitors to our lakes and rivers are more safe after the Oklahoma Highway Patrol Marine Enforcement Troopers received two new 27-foot boats recently.

The boats were purchased using a $500,000 Department of Homeland Security grant.

OHP Marine Enforcement Troopers  investigate all boating accidents, drownings, and injuries on the water.

They also do port security on waters from Fort Smith, Ark., to the Port of Catoosa, said OHP Lt. Greg Giles.

“We also act on behalf of the (United States) Coast Guard on inland waters,” Giles said.

The boats also will aid in the search for drowning victims using sonar.

“This is important, when there’s a drowning, you want to find that victim as fast as you can for the family’s sake,”  Lt. Kurt McKean said. “There’s nothing worse than just not knowing.”

McKean said the new equipment can help narrow down searches to where drowning victims can be located in as fast as 15 minutes.

The sonar can search up to a 30-yard range surrounding the boat, allowing troopers to do a quick, accurate grid search of the lake or river bottom.

The addition of the boats is another tool for law enforcement to serve the public.