The town of Beloit Police Department is hitting the water with a new addition to their patrol units.
"We regularly get complaints about activities that are taking place on the river that we previously did not have the means to address," Town of Beloit Police Chief Steven Kopp said.
The town has received complaints ranging from reckless boating to underage drinking. Now with the addition of a boat to patrol the river Kopp said he hopes officers will be able to cover a wider area while continuing their regular patrols.
"The one thing that we don't want to do is cut down on our regular patrol staffing on the street. So, we are trying to fit in the water safety patrol with our normal duties," he said.
Patrols will cover seven miles of the Rock River within the township, including one mile into the city of Beloit and two miles into the town of Rock. The department initially proposed the purchase of the boat last year. Town Administrator Brian Wilson said it's a resource the town needs.
"Several members of the board felt very strongly about it, that it was a safety issue and something that should be there. Better to be prepared rather than have someone lose a life or something when we could’ve prevented it," Wilson said.
Kopp said despite concerns from the community the aim of the program is not to increase citations given on the river, but is geared toward preventing them.
"Certainly we will enforce violations when we observe them. This is more of an effort to make sure the water is safe and to promote boating safety," he said.
Since May police have logged 80 patrol hours on the water resulting in 30 safety inspections, 13 citations and one assisted boat rescue. The boat was purchased for $19,500 through a Department of Natural Resources grant that will be paid over the next five years.