Operation Pork, Peanut and Pine
Jul 24, 2017, 08:14
On July 15, Virginia Conservation Police Officers (CPOs), with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF), conducted a boating safety operation on the James River in Surry County. The operation addressed boating safety concerns with boat operators “rafting-up” their vessels off the shore of Chippokes State Park during the Pork, Peanut and Pine Festival. The water event is not connected in any way with the festival. This operation involved multiple Law Enforcement agencies working closely with the Virginia Conservation Police. Agencies include: the United States Coast Guard, Virginia Marine Police, Surry County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police, DCR State Park Police, Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office, James City Police, Norfolk Police, and the Suffolk Police. The annual boating event had an estimated attendance of 400-500 people which creates a party-like atmosphere resulting in calls for public intoxication, assault, and narcotics possession. As temperatures soared to nearly 100 degrees, officers exhibited their usual professionalism as they conducted their safety checks. Despite the extreme heat and occasional unfortunate verbal abuse from intoxicated boaters, numerous boat operators praised the officers for their efforts to keep the event safe. This year marks two consecutive years with no fatalities or serious boating-related injuries. Officers did, however, transport an individual to the Surry Rescue Squad for ingesting water.
The Virginia Conservation Police deployed 13 patrol boats and 35 police officers to focus on intoxicated boaters. As a result of this effort, our CPOs inspected 258 vessels. We tested 36 individuals for alcohol and made 8 OUI arrests; 1 reckless boat operation arrest, 1 reckless boat operation charge (subject blew a .07 and received a summons), 2 marijuana possession arrests, and issued 27 summonses for boating equipment or registration violations. There were 10 written warnings issued and numerous verbal warnings. The Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) Police deployed 2 vessels and 4 personnel; these officers made 1 OUI arrest and issued 3 summonses for equipment or registration violations.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is Virginia’s only Accredited Partner associated with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) which establishes and maintains the standards for safe boating education courses. DGIF and its CPOs would like to thank all of the agencies that assisted with conducting this successful boating safety operation.
Virginia CPOs face additional challenges when conducting boating safety checkpoints. These challenges include transporting an intoxicated OUI suspect back to a boat launch, transferring the suspect to a patrol vehicle and taking them to face the magistrate.
Additionally, assembling the number of officers required to tow and secure the watercraft when intoxicated operators are arrested adds complications that are not found in typical motor vehicle DUI checkpoints and arrests found along the state’s roadways. Despite these challenges, officers successfully managed securing the arrestees’ boats, any associated physical arrests and transports, making this an effective boating safety operation to help keep Virginia waterways safe for citizens to enjoy.