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Should Marine Patrol Officers Be Armed -- What's the "REAL" Story ???

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by David, Jul 18, 2004.

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  1. David

    David Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    I just read this interesting story about whether these part-time marine officers who patrol a lake in Connecticut should be armed or not.

    I think, reading between the lines, that perhaps the "real" story is about "antis" not wanting anyone to have firearms -- including state certified LEOs.

    I don't think of issue of "officer safety" was even mentioned once in this article!

    At least, at the end, these marine officers finally got their "right" to carry firearms returned to them!

    Here is the link to the article:


    Lake Zoar Marine Patrol To Resume Carrying Handguns

    By Andrew Gorosko

    After lengthy wrangling, the Lake Zoar Authority on July 14 voted to allow marine patrol officers to resume carrying side arms on the lake starting on July 17.

    For the past two weekends, marine patrol members have not been armed while patrolling the 11-mile-long impoundment on the Housatonic River, which borders Newtown, Southbury, Monroe, and Oxford. Each of the four towns has members on the lake authority.

    An anonymous letter, which had been sent to the first selectmen of those four towns in March, had questioned the marine patrol's use of the term "police department," its use of a police logo, and its use of the term "police chief" in describing the marine patrol's leader Joseph Steinfeld.

    That letter prompted concerns by Southbury First Selectman Mark Cooper and Oxford First Selectman August Palmer about the operation of the marine patrol and about its members' carrying handguns while on duty. Consequently, the lake authority had the marine patrol work on the lake unarmed for the past two weekends.

    Authority members met with the first selectmen of the four towns on July 14 to discuss the issue.

    Lake authority Chairman Howard Saad of Monroe said the members of the marine patrol are trained police officers who normally work as policemen in various municipalities when not patrolling the lake. The marine patrol officers are certified to carry handguns, he said.

    Mr Steinfeld stressed that marine patrol officers are thoroughly trained police officers who are certified to carry handguns.

    Newtown First Selectman Herbert Rosenthal told authority members that Newtown has never had any problems with the operation of the lake marine patrol.

    "I don't believe that the [marine patrol] issues that have been raised are serious issues....I don't see this as a major problem for the four towns," he said.

    Mr Cooper said the marine patrol is a valuable service, but questioned the practice of its officers to carry handguns while on duty.

    Monroe First Selectman Andrew Nunn similarly said the marine patrol is valuable, but questioned the patrol's efforts to become an independent police agency.

    Mr Palmer said Oxford officials do not want the marine patrol officers to carry handguns. Mr Palmer added that the word "police" should be removed from the marine patrol's boats. The lake authority was never been given the power to create its own police force, Mr Palmer said.

    Mr Rosenthal said, "There are [state] statutes that allow these people to carry guns as long as they are certified police officers."

    Monroe Police Chief John Salvatore said there is no justification for creating a "police department" to patrol Lake Zoar. The respective police departments in the lake authority's four member towns have police powers in those areas, he said.

    The marine patrol has operated carefully and cautiously during its patrol work, Mr Saad said. The unit patrols the lake for 12 weekends during the summer months, when there is much boating.

    "We have a trained [patrol] crew out there. They won't work without their guns. They feel they're out of uniform," Mr Saad said.

    Mr Palmer again stressed that the marine patrol should patrol the lake unarmed.

    Mr Saad later brought the handgun issue to a vote of the lake authority, with its membership strongly endorsing armed lake patrols. Additionally, the lake authority members and the selectmen of the four towns will be reviewing proposed marine patrol policies and procedures.

    On July 15, Mr Cooper said the lake authority must follow proper procedures and practices in administering the work of the marine patrol.

    In the past, Southbury officials had understood that the marine patrol would be an unarmed unit, he said. Mr Cooper said he will be discussing the armament issue with the Southbury selectmen.

    Mr Cooper said Southbury officials also are concerned about the marine patrol's efforts to become an organized police force.


    :rolleyes: :what: :rolleyes:

    Just my 2 cents...

    What do you think the "REAL" story is?
  2. Gunsnrovers

    Gunsnrovers Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Lost Angeles
    If the officers are already employed as LEO's in surrounding towns (from my read), they are moonlighting.

    From the story, it appears that this patrol service has not been authorized as a police force. The 4 surrounding towns apparently jointly police the area.

    Sounds like these guys are not actual law enforcement when they are out there. Exactly whose jurisdiction are they operating under? I don't know if they should be armed or not. Sounds like the lake needs life guards, not security guards. Either that, or the actual PD from the towns need to launch their own boats with their officers on the clock.

    Just from what I read in your post.
  3. sendec

    sendec member

    Dec 2, 2003
    Cannot speak to Conn. law, but typically many states statutorily authorize waterways/sheds/districts to have enforcement units with police powers, including the carrying of weapons and the use of "police" type titles. If these guys are doing statutorily authorized enforcement work of course they should be armed, but it sounds like the managers are uncertain of their statutory bounds.

    Between drunken boaters, poachers, SAR, waste dumpers and threats to water supplies water officers are really underappreciated.
  4. strambo

    strambo Member

    Feb 14, 2004
    I don't know about Connecticut, but in Oregon local jurisdiction is irrelevent. All officers are certified at the State level and can enforce the law in any area of the State. If it is the same in Connecticut, then they are acting within their jurisdictional authority, otherwise what would they be enforcing and on what authority? If they can enforce laws while on marine patrol then they should be armed.

    Even if the marine patrol is not a police force in and of itself, its members are performing police duties on behalf of the State and those local communities, otherwise it could just be a voluntary patrol using non-LEO citizens and save everyone a lot of $$ with little effectiveness in return.
  5. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 19, 2002
    There are Water District or Public Utility Commission type police. Perhaps they fall under one of those?
  6. Josey

    Josey member

    Feb 11, 2003
    Catfish Co, KY
    This sounds like contracted police services. Several areas of the country simply contract out their police and fire/EMS services. Rural Metro is one that I have experience with. One SO used to contract with small commnities and business associations to provide law enforcement for a fee. The communities/associations provided patrol vehicles and the SO provided officers that met all requirements to be certified LEOs. It works well. The problem I could see is these are multiple jurisdictions that overlap. The easy fix would be to have the SO with countywide jurisdiction to patrol the lake. It is not unusual.
  7. Stand_Watie

    Stand_Watie Member

    Jan 7, 2004
    east Texas
    "Marine Patrol" departments are typically intended to deal with the same problems on a water body as highway patrol departments are for dealing with on the highway. DUI, for instance. In Texas and Mchigan any licensed (IE currently employed) police officer is licenced for the entire state, and entitled to carry a pistol on or off duty pretty much anywhere in the state (except jails, courtrooms, airports etc).

    I'd be more than a little surprised if these guys actually disarmed for the last two weekends. More likely just put their weapons in a fanny pack.
  8. Logan5

    Logan5 Member

    Feb 24, 2004
    Wow, the hometown in the news; I never thought I'd see the day. As far as I know, lake Zoar and lake Lillinonah are supposed to be under the jurisdiction of the Connecticut DEP. The major threats are people (yeah, mostly they're drinking) not wearing lifejackets, anchoring where they're not supposed to, going too close to the booms blocking the dam, fishing without a license, and sometimes rabid raccoons. And of course this is the locale of our famous woodchipper murder, right there on river road, but that was at night and in the winter.
    Basically this one is a fight about who gets to tool around in the boat, and really we're not talking about a big lake here. It will be very interesting to see how this turns out.
  9. flatrock

    flatrock Member

    Mar 23, 2004
    I wouldn't want to do any job where it's your duty to confront people who you suspect of doing something illegal without a firearm for defense.

    I think it's foolish and dangerous for places that employ security guards to insist upon them going unarmed. I cringe every time I walk through a local mall and see their unarmed security guards. I know that there have been roberies in that mall, and I'm not sure what unarmed security is going to do against an armed robber. Most likely they'd just get shot.

    I did notice that at least one of them was wearing a vest.

    The marine patrol officers should be properly trained, and armed.
  10. Gunsnrovers

    Gunsnrovers Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Lost Angeles
    Went to Lake Zoar once years ago when I lived in New Canaan. Found this interesting so I did a yahoo search.

    On the plus side, they do have a patch:


    Found this link to lake authorities:


    The Lake Authority MAY employ "Lake Patrolmen" who MAY carry sidearms. This is at the discretion and liability of the local municipalities and not the state. However there is also a provision for "Marine Officers" and "Auxiliaries" who are NOT peace officers and do not have the power to arrest.

    Sounds like it really depends on what role the members of the Lake Authority see these officers as filling.

    Also sounds like a power struggle on the Lake Authority board.

  11. Gunmeister

    Gunmeister Member

    Feb 15, 2004
    The Gunshine State==FL
    In Florida, Marine Patrol Officers are armed and go to the same boot camp as Florida State Troopers and are considered law enforcement officers. Don't think for a minute that they can't pull you over for a traffic violation, believe me they can and will.
  12. motorep

    motorep Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Connecticut is a "shall issue state", open or concealed when I lived there. My permit reads State Permit to Carry Pistols and Revolvers. Get them the permits, move on to something else.
  13. Tharg

    Tharg Member

    Jun 17, 2003
    DFW TX
    heh i knew a guy when i was stationed on Diego Garcia B.I.O.T. that left the island the same day i did. To go to see a psych because the CO was afraid of him. According to the guy - he was the only one on the base that carried locked and loaded... Funny part was - i think he was the most level headed person i knew on that base... and most of the marines i'd met by that time just didn't fit the "level headed" profile.

    I know - not marine police... he was a MARINE.... and i just don't see the point of wearing one on your hip open cary in uniform if its not ready to go boom.

    Same story tho you ask me - if they are called marine police - and are tasked w/ enforcing the law... then they should be armed to be able to carry out that mandate....


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