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Marine unit deputies out in force this weekend

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

Law enforcement officers across the bay area will be out in force on the waterways this Memorial Day weekend. They say they want to make sure boaters are safe and sober while operating their watercraft. Marine Deputy Paul Shute says this operation is more about education than writing citations. "If someone, for example, doesn't have a whistle, we'll give them a whistle. Meet that requirement. That's the sheriff's position that they're safe. If they're short a life jacket, then we have life jackets that we can provide to them." Said Shute. "Well, we're doing a lot of public relations, meeting the people that are out boating. Inspecting their vessels. Making sure they have the right amount of life jackets, fire extinguishers..."

Shute says deputies will be at boat ramps across the county, as well as on the water. "Predominantly, we'll be working the eastern shoreline, from downtown Tampa through cockroach, through Ruskin, Apollo Beach and the Alafia. If you're out here on the water, there's a high probability you'll see one of our boats. We're going to be just about everywhere. "

Boaters we caught up with say they welcome the law enforcement presence, as well as the safety inspections. Christopher McLaughlin says he sees a lot of crazy stuff on the water, especially on a busy holiday weekend. "Well, as a supporter of law enforcement, no kidding, this is a very good idea." Said McLaughlin. "I've seen a lot of derelict vessels out here."

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