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Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office performing boat safety checks Memorial Day weekend

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Posted at 6:14 PM, May 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-23 18:29:37-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — If you’re out on the water in Hillsborough County this Memorial Day weekend, be aware that law enforcement will be out with you.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and it’s Marine Unit are doing safety checks to make sure people are staying safe.

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“I think it’s going to be the busiest weekend ever. We’ve been seeing boating traffic increasing by the weekend, especially during COVID-19,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “I think someone told me that boat sales are off the charts, so people know that being outside during COVID-19 is the safest place to be, so why not take your loved ones out on a boat and enjoy a great day out on the water, but I can’t say it enough, it has to start with safety on the water.”

The sheriff’s office will check to make sure people are following the rules on the water like having the right safety gear like life jackets, and aren’t impaired while boating.

Last weekend, the HCSO Marine Unit and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) worked together doing safety inspections on boats on the Alafia River. The agencies made a combined six boating under the influence arrests.

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“You’re quickly going to realize how many people are turning to water for that safe, family fun,” said Chronister. “They can’t go to movie theaters, they can’t go to a lot of different entertainment avenues, so they’re turning to the water for fun.”

HCSO says its goal is to educate people, along with encouraging boaters to keep up with social distancing, including not gathering in groups of more than 10 people. They say enforcement is a last resort.