Task force to patrol Connecticut River over holiday weekend

  • A fishing boat on the Connecticut River. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 7/2/2021 7:34:49 PM

The Connecticut River Task Force will be on patrol over the July 4 weekend in an effort to reduce boating under the influence (BUI) and foster a safe environment on the river, according to the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

“The Fourth of July offers an excellent time for us all to get outside, enjoy the water with friends and family, and celebrate the holiday. However, we all must remain responsible while boating to ensure the operator, passengers and those around us enjoy a safe experience,” Massachusetts Environmental Police Col. Shaun Santos said in a statement. “Importantly, the Massachusetts Environmental Police and other public safety entities will be strongly enforcing the commonwealth’s BUI law in an effort to reduce tragic incidents from occurring.”

The task force is a consortium of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and this weekend’s patrols are part of a national campaign called Operation Dry Water that seeks to reduce the number of individuals boating while under the influence.

The holiday weekend is a time when larger numbers of recreational boaters are on the water and when Environmental Police and other public safety agencies respond to an increase in BUI-related incidents. Massachusetts state law prohibits the operation of any vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Operators of boats are urged to operate vessels at reasonable speeds based on existing conditions, including traffic density, weather and visibility. In addition, the task force asks operators to refrain from rafting more than five vessels together while anchored in the river to ensure the river is open to navigation. Boaters are also reminded that they are required to operate at headway speed within 150 feet of a swimmer, shore or moored vessel, according to the task force.

The Connecticut River Task Force is composed of law enforcement and vessels from Easthampton, Hadley, Northampton, South Hadley and Chicopee, along with the Massachusetts Environmental Police, United States Coast Guard, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, and the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office.


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