DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Thousands of boaters took to Central Florida waters over Memorial Day weekend and law enforcement was there right along with them.
The Daytona Beach Police Department just recently revamped its marine unit with a brand new boat that takes off from Halifax Harbour Marina but works all throughout the county.
“The contact and approach to the entire stop is one where I want people to walk away having a positive experience,” Officer Nick Gurucharri said.
Gurucharri, a 14-year veteran with the department, now leads the marine unit.
“A lot of it’s just communication and so many of the people that I come into contact with just simply say I don’t know, or this is new to me, or I just bought the boat,” he said.
Retail unit sales of new powerboats in the U.S. reached a 13-year high in 2020, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association. Unless you were born after 1988, you don’t have to take a boating education course before hitting Florida waters.
“It’s not like driving your car down the street. You’ve got current, you’ve got wind, you’ve got other boaters. These things don’t have brakes,” Gurucharri said.
Daytona police work with the sheriff’s office, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the U.S. Coast Guard on the river and off the coast. The biggest violation Gurucharri said he sees is people speeding in no wake zones, not only affecting the wildlife and other boaters but marinas.
“It causes the customer boats or the boats that are there, that are visiting, to slam up against the docks and it causes damage,” he said.
Gurucharri said there’s several projects he’s also working on, like citing abandoned and derelict boats. The owners go to court for leaving them in public waterways if they don’t take action. Daytona police then works with the FWC to remove them.
“It has cleaned up a lot of the areas not only from unsightly boats sunken in the river but there was a lot of criminal activity that was lingering and coming around these boats,” he said.