The Henderson County Sheriff's said the addition of a second search and rescue boat has aided in patrolling the major lakes in the county.
Sheriff Botie Hillhouse told the Athens Kiwanis about the benefits of the boat a 2015 Make Cemter Console Tuesday as he updated the members on recent activities of the department.
"Now, I've got 10 certified marine deputies to work on the lakes in Henderson County and only had one boat," Hillhouse said.
For years, HCSO has had a single boat which was used on the local lakes and occasionally sent outside the county to help in a rescue or recovery effort.
The county can now send a boat to Cedar Creek Lake on the west side and Lake Palestine on the east side for use simultaneously.
Previously, on holiday weekends, when the activity on the lakes is busiest, the HCSO had to choose where to send the boat.
"We usually picked the wrong lake and something would happen on the other lake," Hillhouse said.
The purchase of the boat was made with drug seizure funds.
Cedar Creek Lake covers more than 36,000 acres and has 320 miles of shoreline. It's the fourth largest lake totally in Texas. Lake Palestine encompasses 25,000 acres, with 130 miles of shoreline. Lake Athens is patrolled by the Athens Municipal Water Authority, which has its own peace officer and boat, Hillhouse said. Lake Athens is a small lake, covering only 1,799 acres.
Lakes in Texas are worked by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Game Wardens, who are certified Marine Safety Enforcement Officers.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Law Enforcement Division also certifies Marine Safety Enforcement Officers throughout the state for enforcement of the Water Safety Act. Certified peace officers from other agencies must be MSEO certified through TPWD in order to enforce recreational boating safety laws on public waters in Texas and provisions of the Water Safety Act.