by John Domen

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WNEW) — Maryland Natural Resources Police will be out in full force on area waters over the Fourth of July weekend to ensure boaters stay safe and out of trouble.

However, their safety message stretches well beyond making sure whoever is behind the wheel stays sober.

“We don’t like to see people bow riding,” NRP Officer Chris Neville said. “That is if somebody is sitting on the bow of the boat a lot of times they’ll have their feet hanging over. One bad wake and that can spell trouble.”

Already this week, Neville has spotted a passenger doing exactly that while aboard a boat that was leaving the Sandy Point Marina. He stopped the boat to explain the potentially deadly consequences and proceeded to ask permission to conduct a full safety check.

First up: “Can I see three life jackets, please?”

The passengers showed them to Neville, who continued to rundown a checklist of other mandatory items such as a throw cushion, emergency flares, and some sort of whistle or horn.

What this particular boater didn’t have was a fire extinguisher and a registration card for the boat.

Because the operator and passengers were all born after July 1972, they should have taken an online boater safety course. But no one had.

Neville proceeded to issue the neglectful boaters a $25 ticket.

The lack of a fire extinguisher could have also gotten them a ticket and put an end to their day on the water before it started. However, the officer showed leniency in this instance and asked them to go back to the marina and buy one.

Aware that the group he stopped had driven a good distance, Neville said you never want to ruin someone’s day, “but we also have a job to do.” So, he took the opportunity to deliver a safety message.

“We have great discretion whether we get our point across with a warning or a citation, that’s the beauty of this job,” he said. “I think the way I’ve handled it he should get the message… Safety is our first and foremost.”

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