According to initial reports from multiple law enforcement agencies who patrol the waters of Lake Havasu, the grass-roots, privately-funded Designated Operator safety campaign is making inroads and a difference with recreational boaters.
During the traditionally busy Memorial Day weekend, Sgt. Jerry Burns of the Lake Havasu City Police was quoted in a local newspaper article, saying, "We've seen a lot of Designated (boat) Operators on the water." Burns also added that he attributed a portion of the increase to the influence of the voluntary sober-boating campaign launched earlier this year by the Lake Havasu Marine Association.
Sgt. Doug Schuster of the Mohave County Sheriff's Office also commented in the same article, "We've made a lot of contacts with boaters and we're seeing a lot of designated operators in place. "It's a busy weekend and the crowds are up. But not historically as busy as in years past.
Also echoing the sentiments of encountering fewer intoxicated boaters during the long holiday weekend was the San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner's Department. Corporal Marc Bracco from the Colorado River Station Marine Enforcement Unit noted only one rental boat operator was arrested for "boating under the influence" which was fewer than in previous years during the same time period.
"We're encouraged by the preliminary reports from in-the-field water enforcement officers," said Jim Salscheider, Executive Director of the Lake Havasu Marine Association. "Designated Operator's mission is to spread the word that sobriety is imperative whenever you're behind the wheel of a boat. The goal is to reduce the number of impaired boat operators and make our waterways safer and more enjoyable for everyone. With the support and input of our local law enforcement agencies, we're able to monitor the success of this campaign as the boating season progresses. We've just begun, but we're optimistic of making a real difference."
The Lake Havasu "Carry a Designated Operator" campaign is co-sponsored by Romer Beverage Company of Lake Havasu and Teague Custom Marine, Valencia, California. Supporting agencies and associations include: Arizona Game and Fish, Arizona State Parks, Bureau of Land Management, LakeRacer LLC/Desert Storm, Southern California Marine Association, London Bridge Yacht Club, Mohave County Sheriffs, Lake Havasu City Police, and San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner Department. Participating restaurants/bars include Pirate Cove Resort, Havasu Springs Resort, Turtle Grille/Nautical Beachfront Resort and Topock 66. "Carry a designated operator" was founded by the Lake Havasu Marine Association and is responsible for its implementation. More information about Designated Operator is available at www.lhcma.com.