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UNDERGO TRAINING IN PARIS LANDING AREA
Have you’ve been around the Paris Landing State Park area this summer and
observed a fleet of big white boats from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources
Agency and wondered what was going on?
New wildlife officers from across the state have been here undergoing a
series of boating enforcement training exercises ranging from rescue to
interacting with the public.
Under the watchful eye of several veteran boating officers the young
officers are put through numerous scenarios ranging from maneuvers of
their big vessels in tight quarters of a crowded marina atmosphere to
learning how to best operate the state vessel while it’s on plane and
approaching another boat or attempting to pull someone over while
traveling at a high rate of speed.
“This is a great area for us to bring the younger officers and provide
them with a wide variety of boating scenarios they may encounter
throughout their career,” said former Henry Countian Joe Campbell, boating
enforcement and training supervisor with Tennessee Wildlife Resources
Agency who now resides in Dover.
“Here on Kentucky Lake they are exposed to big water and what windy
conditions can be like. There are main channel buoys and secondary channel
buoys, barge traffic, marinas, and a high use area where a multitude of
boats are using the waterways.”
“We put them through survival tactics so they’ll know, first hand, what
it’s like if they too fall overboard or have to rescue someone in the
water. And, law enforcement officers might find themselves in unique
situations when routine checks take a different turn. Sometimes the
outcome is unpredictable.”
With an experienced officer at their side each young officer logged a lot
of time behind the wheel of the big center console boats. “We want them to
get a feel for the job,” said boating accident investigator Glenn Moates.
“Later on these guys will have boating under the influence and accident
training. Then they will have ten weeks of firearms training at the
academy in Donelson,” continued Moates, when asked what lies ahead for new
Tennessee has over 200,000 boats registered statewide, which is down
slightly from a surge that occurred a decade or so ago. Still, that’s a
lot of vessels across the Volunteer State on the various waterways which
range from small lakes to flowing rivers with some big reservoirs
When I accepted Campbell’s invitation to see, first hand, what all was
involved in the training course it was quite interesting to see what all
took place. The veteran officers were sharing their experiences and
putting the newcomers through some challenges and potential
scenarios---some which may be unfortunate at times.
“We teach them everything from how to back these big boats down a boat
ramp to parking them in tight quarters. From how to pull up and encounter
the public in a professional manner to operation in such spots as a
tailrace below dams,” explained Campbell. “You just never know what lies
ahead so we try to prepare them.”
Later in the week the crew was headed to Barkley Lake venturing down river
to lock through Kentucky and Barkley dams and experience operation within
a tailrace situation where a lot of current changes things.
Prior to that it was out of the boat and in the water where officers
placed the new recruits in a possible scenario of an unfortunate encounter
with an irate boater. Should a struggle occur an officer could find
himself in the water too while trying to take command of the situation at
Tossing officers into the swimming pool while in uniform, armed with their
firearm and various gear was all part of it. Things can happen quick; so
the officers were exposed to that too and taught how to react should the
unfortunate occur at the blink of an eye.
“Paris Landing State Park has been very good for our training exercises.
The staff has been supportive of our needs and exhibited great
hospitality,” said Campbell, when asked about the state park as his choice
And what about some of the do’s and don’ts of boating that you and I can
practice to make it safer for everyone out there?
“I’d say the top mistakes we tell our young officers to watch out for is
the public just operating a boat too fast for the conditions, not wearing
life jackets or having proper registration, and operators just not paying
close attention,” said Moates, when asked about the basics.
Joe Campbell’s experience has taught him to teach others. Three things
topping his list when teaching boating safety to young officers or the
public through school systems or random courses is to wear life jackets;
don’t drink and drive; and take a boating safety course.
By the end of the week the covey of new officers had logged several hours
of training at the hands of experienced officers who had “been-there;
done-that”. Not too many years ago they too were in training and honing
their skills for an uncertain future in boating safety and enforcement.
The road ahead can be bumpy but their training will hopefully help prepare
them for unchartered waters that are all part of the job as an officer
starting out with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.