By McKenzie Williams
The Lincoln County Sherriff’s department recently purchased a brand new, 24-foot, 2018 Hewescraft motorboat for $85,000 using grant funding. The grant program, called Operation Stone Garden, is from Homeland Security and the U.S. Border Patrol. According to www.homelandsecuritygrants.info, the program supports enhanced cooperation and coordination among Customs and Border Protection (CBP), United States Border Patrol (USBP), and local, tribal, territorial, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.
The program funds investments in joint efforts to secure the United States’ borders along international access routes with Mexico and Canada including international water borders such as Lake Koocanusa. The three-year grant is continuously renewed.
Sheriff’s office employees will be training with David Thompson Search and Rescue, Boarder Patrol, and even the Marine Corps to learn about the responsibilities of water patrol. The new boat will mainly be used for enforcing laws against drug smuggling and illegal entry into the U.S. but will also other general water safety laws.
The boat will stored at Abayance Bay Marina in south Rexford and used by the Lincoln County Sheriff’s office hand in hand with Border Patrol as well as Search and Rescue, Fish Wildlife & Parks, Libby Dam, and more. A radio has been installed to remain in contact with locals. Once a light bar and sirens have been installed, training will begin. Lincoln County Sheriff, Darren Short told The Montanian that they are hoping to be in the water and on patrol by July.