Tulare County Sheriff’s Office takes over lake patrol duties


Captain Keith Douglass spoke to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, May 24, 2016, regarding the transfer of boat patrol duties at Lake Kaweah and Lake Success. The Board voted 4-0 (Pete Vander Poel-District 2 was absent for the vote) to authorize the transfer of equipment for the lake patrol program from the General Services Department to the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office.

Historically, the Sheriff’s Office has provided law enforcement on the Kings River under contract with the Parks Department during its season. In June 2015, the Board of Supervisors asked Sheriff Mike Boudreaux to evaluate a program to assume lake patrols at Lake Kaweah and Lake Success.

Before the Sheriff’s Office took over as the primary law enforcement presence, the lakes were patrolled by Tulare County Parks and Recreation’s Lake Patrol attendants who were civilian personnel.

On July 17, 2015, Tulare County Sheriff’s deputies were on the lakes with assistance from civilian personnel. 

With the assignment of deputies during the pilot program, the public has shown an overwhelming acceptance of the new law enforcement presence on the lakes. There have been no vessel collisions or drownings at either Lake Kaweah or Lake Success.

The Sheriff’s Office program recommends only deputies patrol the lakes and not a mix of civilian and law enforcement personnel. To maintain operational effectiveness, the program would require two deputies on each boat. 

Lake patrol personnel details will be worked out by Tulare County Human Resources and Development and General Services. Its recommendations will be presented to the board at a future meeting.


By the numbers


Lake Kaweah /Lake Success

July 2015 through March 2016: 

7,113 vessels on the lakes

726 vessel stops

83 vessel assists

405 vessel inspections

809 warnings issued

44 citations issued

16 arrests for BUI and active warrants

0 vessel collisions

0 drownings



The Memorial Day weekend kicks off the boating season, and the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind everyone how to be safe while boating on lakes and rivers with these following tips: 

—Avoid alcohol. Drinking and driving a boat do not mix and can result in an arrest.

—Wear life jackets. On a vessel, children under 13 must wear a life jacket at all times (life jackets are available for loan at Lake Kaweah’s visitor center).

—Have a personal flotation device on board for each person present.

—Learn to swim.

—Have a fire extinguisher on board.

—Check all safety equipment ahead of time and keep it maintained.

—Boats and personal watercraft travel in a counter-clockwise pattern on lakes.

—For swimmers, wear life jackets, don’t drink alcohol, stay near the shore, and don’t swim near boat ramps or docks.

Boaters should also know to take the following steps both before traveling to and before leaving a waterway to prevent spreading invasive mussels and safeguard California waterways:

CLEAN— Inspect exposed surfaces and remove all plants and organisms.

DRAIN all water, including water contained in lower outboard units, live-wells, and bait buckets.

DRY— Allow the watercraft to thoroughly dry between launches. Watercraft should be kept dry for at least five days in warm weather and up to 30 days in cool weather.

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