The Sandusky Police marine patrol became a more efficient operation this summer.
Preparing for the season, police Chief Kim Nuesse took a look at the department's marine patrol and noticed it was run almost entirely on overtime hours the previous summer.
"When I got here I started looking at the marine patrol, asking: 'Why is this run on overtime? Why are we only running this on weekends?'" Nuesse said. "I didn't think that was the most efficient way to operate the marine patrol. I asked, 'What are we trying to accomplish?'"
Last spring she revamped the entire program, aligning it with the department's mission to educate, prevent and enforce. Nuesse wanted the department to enforce laws on the water and to help protect borders.
"A lot of people have forgotten 9/11. We have to agree here that our northern border ... is wide open," said Lt. Phil Frost.
Now the marine patrol is funded by grants from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and boat taxes.
The U.S. Coast Guard and Ohio Department of Natural Resources are also out on the water, but the Coast Guard's primary mission is search and rescue. ODNR is not primarily geared toward law enforcement, leaving a role for Sandusky's marine patrol.
"It serves so many purposes from just awareness, safety and education and as far-reaching as homeland security," Frost said. "We're not this arrest machine. We'll arrest you if we have to, but we're out here for prevention."
Nuesse said tourists have welcomed the marine patrol.
"We get a lot of comments from tourists that appreciate us being out there," she said. "They appreciate our presence on the water. They said it makes them feel safer."
The 26-foot Boston Whaler covers Sandusky Bay up to two miles out from the city limits.
"We're not like other areas on the water because we have the bay, we have Davis-Besse, we have Cedar Point and then we have the Lake Erie Islands," Frost said. "We have all these pleasure boaters, we have huge fishing, we have every kind of boating in the same area."
Many of the numbers, including arrests, have more than doubled from last year, but Nuesse said she wants more.
"We are really, really are proud of the program's accomplishments on the water," she said. "But I want more arrests, more seizures and more crime interception."
Marine Patrol 2006 Statistics
Search and Rescues: 4
Marine Patrol 2007 Stats
Search and Rescues: 10