THE Water Police Squad has joined forces with some of Victoria Police’s key specialist units in a major effort to bolster safety over the Australia Day weekend.
The effort – involving the Air Wing, Dog Squad and Public Order Response Team – saw police blitz the water and foreshore across Port Phillip Bay from Thursday to Sunday.
Passive alert detection dogs were deployed to boat ramps across the weekend to sniff out vessel operators thinking of taking to the water impaired.
They were supported by local police conducting preliminary breath tests and licence checks.
Inspections were carried out to make sure vessel operators were carrying the required safety equipment like lifejackets, torches and fire extinguishers.
Boat and jet ski rider behaviour was a focus on the water.
The Water Police Squad used police jet skis to support its rapid enforcement, with anyone caught travelling too close to swimmers, ignoring no boating zones or exceeding speed restrictions to face significant fines.
The Air Wing had eyes from the sky while the Public Order Response Team engaged with beachgoers at popular spots across the bay to stop antisocial behaviour.
Victoria Police’s enforcement agency partners including Safer Transport Victoria, Parks Victoria and the Victorian Fisheries Authority were supporting the highly-visible operation.
The Water Police Squad has been out this summer staging proactive patrols across inland and coastal waterways.
It also had special strike teams at key locations targeting anti-social behaviour, water safety and boating offences.
Superintendent Wayne Newman, Specialist Response Division, said police wanted everyone to enjoy Victoria’s beaches and waterways over the weekend, but safely.
“That’s why we teamed up with a number of specialist and local units to ensure our presence was highly visible,” he said.
“We had zero tolerance for anyone who puts other water users at risk.”