Given the soaring popularity of standup paddleboarding (SUP), it seemed only a matter of time before the cops infiltrated the SUP ranks.
Actually, the Truckee Police Department in Northern California says it will begin situational patrols using the over-sized surfboards, primarily on Donner Lake, simply as a means of improving community interaction.
The department is believed to be the first in the nation to use SUP boards, and the cops selected for SUP patrol, as part of the Adventure Recreation and Community Team, clearly will be the envy of their squad car colleagues.
The program came about, police say, because the small town of Truckee, in the north Lake Tahoe region, has become such a gigantic SUP destination.
A news release issued by Police Chief Adam McGill and Capt. Rob Leftwich states: “The standup paddleboard community has a tremendous presence in Truckee. We are now better suited to interact with this growing segment of our community.”
Leftwich assured that the SUP program is not designed to increase enforcement or address crime issues. He’s quoted by SUPconnect as saying, “It is crucial the public understands our officers are people who also live and recreate in our region and want to promote our environmentally friendly, adventurous lifestyle.
“The chief of police and I are very aware that if we make Truckee an enjoyable experience for residents and visitors, people will keep returning.”
Cops who are part of the SUP team were trained by Tahoe SUP race team manager, Ronnie Ayres, who said: “Getting the officers out of their vehicles and onto SUPs illustrates their commitment to a positive community presence in Truckee.”
OK, this seems very cool, especially if you’re a cop drawn for SUP duty. But will SUP paddlers actually embrace the notion of police officers paddling in their wakes? Or will they get nervous, as when a squad car appears in the rear-view mirror, and fall into the drink?
McGill assures that this is a friendly gesture and that policing in laid-back Truckee is not like policing in a big city.
“Policing in Truckee is unique and it is our responsibility to adjust; it’s not the community’s responsibility to adjust to us,” the chief said. “In Truckee we don’t just say we are a Community Oriented Policing department, we actually live it.”
– Images of Truckee police with SUP equipment are courtesy of the town of Truckee