During last year’s budget process, funds were approved for the first marine craft specifically designed for the Marco Island Police Department. Prior to this acquisition, a used Donzi and a smaller backwater boat were purchased. The Donzi will be taken out of service but the backwater boat will remain in service.
Last year, Police Chief Tracy Frazzano gave a presentation to councilors and made her case for the 32-foot Contender, which will be equipped with state-of-the-art equipment to allow her people to safely do their job, no matter where it might take them.
The new craft will be equipped with twin 400 hp Mercury outboards. It also will have redundant electronics for navigation. In addition to a radar system, the boat will be equipped with a 360-degree FLIR system, which allows operators to seek out heat signatures and see in the darkness.
The communications electronics will be state of the art, and consist of three separate radios, to include the city’s own VHF system. Radios will be capable of communicating with multiple agencies, including law enforcement agencies across a wide spectrum, and agencies such as fire-rescue departments, aircraft and Coast Guard. That valuable electronic component will be protected from the elements through a special housing and storage unit.
One specialty feature to provided with this unit will be a side dive-door. This feature provides divers and swimmers with a safe egress and access point away from the boat’s engines and propellers. It also allows for the ease of bringing rescued persons on board.
“This piece of equipment will allow our personnel to respond to calls, regardless of the conditions, in a safe and efficient manner, something that is very important when you live on an island surrounded by water,” said Captain Dave Baer.
Part of the design of the boat took into consideration the clearance necessary to pass under island bridges during high water periods. “We don’t have the option of waiting for the waters to lower during high tide events if our presence is needed,” he said.
Baer also pointed out the involvement of department personnel in specifying details of the boat. “Our people were involved in the design of this unit, since they are the folks that will be using it on a day-to-day basis,” said Baer.
The boat was on display at the Monday evening City Council meeting so that councilors and the public could catch a quick look at the vessel. The department is still outfitting the vessel, and a dedication ceremony is planned for next week.