Officer Frank Di Pietro loads the shotgun, AR-15 and other firearms onto the police boat. "It may seem silly that we're bringing all this," the Greenwich Police Department Marine Officer says, "but when we're out there we can't call for backup, and there have been shootouts in the past."
Di Pietro and and his partner Officer Shawn Fox patrol the Sound off Greenwich. Officers in the department's marine section cruise Greenwich's 31 miles of coastline in teams of two.
A former Marine, Fox is the more seasoned officer and the boat's technician. Di Pietro is just reaching his one-year anniversary with the marine section. Both grew up in the area and say they were practically raised on the water and beaches. Knowing the landscape and the water is key, they say.
Marine officers are responsible both for enforcing the laws of the waterways and for providing emergency help at any of the islands off Greenwich. "You have to have EMT certification to be a marine officer, and each vessel is equipped to transport and stabilize patients to the mainland when needed," says Di Pietro.
The officers are also responsible for maintaining the three police craft, which cuts down on the town's costs and increases their familiarity with the vessels.
As they patrol, Di Pietro spots a large floating object and promptly steers toward it. Fox leaps into action, climbing onto the edge of the inflatable rigid-hull boat and pulling a waterlogged wood beam out with Di Pietro's help.
"That easily could have shredded the hull of someone's boat," says Di Pietro, adding that such hazards are common, but that as long as they are on patrol at least some accidents can be prevented.
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