Pell City police Chief Greg Turley said the program is designed to work with the homeowners’ associations, lake homeowners and residents as a full-service operation that has a zero-tolerance to theft, hazards and litter on the lake.
“Ask anyone, and they’ll tell you that the biggest benefit for living in Pell City is the people, the lake, and the quality of life,” Turley said. “Anyone who lives or recreates on the lake can tell you that the biggest threat to those benefits are litter, reckless operators and theft.”
Turley said those reasons are why members of the Pell City Police Department have stepped up to serve the residents who share the enjoyment of Logan Martin Lake.
“This is their home, their lake, and we are their marine officers,” said Turley, who is also a state-certified Marine Police officer.
Turley said although the program began at the end of last year’s season in a response to theft on the lake, this year marks the first full season of the program.
“Other than the purchase of two life preservers, the program hasn’t cost the city any funds,” he said.
“Many Marine Police officers will tell you that they don’t have the time or manpower to build relationships on the lake; that is where we come in,” he said.
Turley said any routine violations will be referred to the state Marine Police for handling because that is not the intent of the program.
“Assuring that there are no accidents, drownings, burglaries, thefts and other hazards are the goals of this program,” he said. “Because of our intimate knowledge of our community and ownership of issues, it is our goal to be under way within five minutes of any call.”
Turley said it is important that residents know they should notify the police department of all problems, suspicious activities and incidents on the lake.
“Whether the need is for a tow-in, fuel or suspicious activity, our officers are going to be responsive to the needs of the community and respond in a timely, professional matter,” he said. “Right now, the only state marine officer in Pell City’s jurisdiction has to also serve Lay Lake. The Pell City Police Department does not plan to replace his duties, but only complement them.”
Turley said the 25-foot Marine Police boat being used was donated by the Alabama Marine Police in 2009. The patrol boat features two 150-horse power engines and an array of police equipment, including an HD underwater sonar that is used for rescues, recovery and location of evidence and hazards.
The vessel is scheduled to be displayed at numerous community events this summer, and the officers can be booked to speak at any community or educational event year-round.
To contact the marine officers, call the St. Clair County dispatch at 205-884-3333 or hail them on channel 16 of a marine radio.