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    Photo Courtesy of LCSO Capt. Billy Knox

In recent years, the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office has seen an increase in high water rescues throughout the county. Most of these rescues were completed by other law enforcement agencies, fire departments, and even citizens because the Sheriff’s Office did not have a boat. Recently the Sheriff’s Office acquired an airboat from Liberty County Pct. 3. This airboat will be deployed for these rescues and for other areas that may require maritime law enforcement. LCSO realized that special training was needed because the airboat does not operate like a traditional boat. There is no reverse and control is maintained only by steering coordinated with application or reduction in power.


The Liberty County Sheriff’s Office recently hosted an airboat operator course due to the need for proficient and certified operators. The specialized course is sanctioned by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators and taught by their instructors. The Sheriff’s Office had been trying for a year to send deputies to this specific course but couldn’t due to the high demand and popularity of the class.


On March 26, 2021, deputies from the Liberty County and Chambers County Sheriff Offices completed the airboat operator’s course. The course was five days and is geared for law enforcement and first responders that operate an airboat in a maritime situation. The course consisted of basic operations, crew and passenger safety, risk management, operational hazards and field repairs. Deputies spend the first few hours in the classroom and the remaining time running the airboat each day. At the end of the course, there was a comprehensive “practical” where the deputies had to test their learned skills.


LCSO Sheriff Bobby Rader expressed his deep appreciation for not only the Instructors and deputies who went through this extensive training but his many thanks also went to Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne and the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office for their help with this class.