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Westport Marine Division Keeps Water Safe All Year

WESTPORT, Conn. – Summertime and boating go hand-in-hand. But if you think the Westport Police Marine Division packs it up once summer is over, think again.

From Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, Westport Police Officers Ryan Paulsson, Bob Myer and Kevin Smith — working in teams of two — are assigned to the Marine Division full time. However, the division is always ready to respond to a call — even in the dead of winter.

"We always have a boat in the water, so if there's an emergency, we're still able to respond quickly," said Paulsson, a 10-year veteran of the department. When he's not working as a marine officer, Paulsson is one of the department's K-9 officers .

In addition to Paulsson, Myer and Smith, about 20 other Westport police officers are qualified to work the police boats. The division has a total of four boats: one inflatable and three Boston Whalers ranging in size.

During the season, Paulsson, Myer and Smith are charged with patrolling Long Island Sound from the Westport/Fairfield town line to the Westport/Norwalk town line as well as the Saugatuck River. Some of their duties include checking fishing licenses, enforcing shellfish and boating regulations and checking recreational boats to ensure they have proper safety equipment. But the scoop of their responsibilities varies.

Last year, the division — headed by Capt. Sam Arciola — received 233 calls. Those calls ranged from medical emergencies, larceny reports, capsized vessels, disabled vessels that needed to be towed and vessels that were taking on water.

The division also responded to five boat accidents and assisted other agencies, such as the Norwalk police and Fairfield police departments. Some of the calls the division responded to this year included assaults and a boat fire .

"On the street, you never know what the day is going to bring you, but that's even truer on the water," said Myer, a 19-year veteran of the department. "We need to have everything we might need on the boat because out there, we're it."

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