AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – The Hampden County Sheriff’s Department has a new Marine Patrol Unit.

“The past two summers due to the pandemic there are more people on the water and in boats than ever before. The marine unit is on the waterways to deter reckless behavior,” said Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi.

That’s one of the reasons the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department has started the new Marine Patrol Unit. They will work on searches for missing swimmers, rescue and recovery efforts and safety patrols on the Connecticut river and Congamond Lakes.

Their goal is to enhance public safety on the waterways during the months and times when people are out the most water skiing, rafting, swimming, boating and fishing.

“When the water ways are busy and crowded so you’ll see most of us on a Friday, a Saturday, a Sunday a long weekend,” said Cocchi.

“I’ve been boating on this river my whole life and any other body of water around here. I’ve lived here for 35 years and any time we have someone in uniform on the water it makes it safer from everyone out there including my self,” said Joseph Giannetti, Town of Agawam Harbormaster.

But it wasn’t tax payers who paid for the boats. The money came from drug busts made by Department of Justice’s Asset Forfeiture Fund. The first of the boats cost $10,000, another one $50,000 and between the two they’re staffed with ten deputy sheriffs.

  • 2017 18′ Lake Assault search and rescue patrol boat
  • 2021 20.5′ Center Console Finseeker search and rescue patrol boat

“Frankly when we have the young kids out on the water swimming, fishing we have to make sure everyone goes home safe and that they enjoy their time out on the lake.” Sheriff Nick Cocchi, Hampden County Sheriff

PHOTOS: Marine Patrol Unit

The officers in the Marine Patrol Unit are also trained and equiped with the tools to help with opioid overdoses.