Lake George Marine Patrol starts carrying pistols, batons

July 09, 2018 06:50 PM

"Protect and serve" that's what our law enforcement professionals swear to do. However, what happens when they don't feel they can adequately protect themselves from the public? That’s the reason why Lake George Marine Patrol officers are now carrying batons and pistols for the first time in 50 years.

"The commission decided to be proactive rather than reactive," Lake George Park Commission Marine Patrol Lieutenant Joe Johns said. "Over the past five years or so we've been answering a lot more serious calls."

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Johns has been with the Park Commission Marine Patrol for 18 years, but 2018 is the first year he and his officers are carrying pistols and batons. Johns said their role on the lake has changed recently.

"From domestic incidents on islands to last year we had a guy running around on an island with an ax," Johns said. "We had two late teens high on drugs you know totally out of control on an island. Not that we would've used a firearm or baton of either one of those or any of those instances but you never know what you're going to walk in to."

Lake George Park Commission Marine Patrol officers go out in single man boats, whereas the New York State Police, Warren County Sheriff's deputies and Department of Environmental Conservation officers are all paired up.

Park Commission Marine Patrol also has the most boats out on the water.

"We are the first ones on the scene most of the time," Johns said.

Some tourists are showing strong support for arming patrol officers.

"If there's people coming that shouldn't be acting the way they should and someone needs to stop them, they should be able to protect themselves," Robert Liberatore from Medina, NY said.

But, not everyone is on board.

"They have probably spray, they have the handcuffs," Marc Fattahi from Connecticut said. "How often does anybody get killed camping?"

Most people said they understand the need, but it's an unfortunate sign of the times.

"They [patrol officers] can usually defuse the situation by talking to people," Johns said. "I expect them to continue to do that. My hope is we will never need what we're carrying."


Emily Burkhard

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