Yacht club makes case for new police boat

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MANTOLOKING — Borough officials heard a presentation by Mantoloking Yacht Club Commodore Joseph Celentano during its meeting Tuesday night to discuss the use and funding of a possible new police boat to patrol waterways around the borough.

Mr. Celentano, speaking for the club, urged the council to discuss the acquisition of a new boat and offered to fund for the operational costs of running the boat. 

Mr. Celentano said the new boat would be crucial for public safety. 

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“I have a tremendous amount of responsibility for sailors, young and old, who are using the bay,” said the commodore. 

“I want to thank Chief [Stacy] Ferris and Mayor [Lance] White for being instrumental in getting the current boat operational this past summer,” said Mr. Celentano. 

The borough currently has an older police boat that is in a very poor state, according to Mr. Celentano. This past summer, the boat was mostly operated by the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office because of budgeting. 

The current boat has a closed cockpit, Mr. Celentano said, which requires more than one officer to be on the boat while operating. 

“That in itself makes the boat somewhat obsolete because of the high costs of labor,” he said. 

“The importance of having this boat was never more evident than this year with the fact, one of the many byproducts of the pandemic, is that this year we saw a record number of new boat users,” he said. 

The number of both sailboats and motorboats out on the water grew, Mr. Celentano said, with many at times operating recklessly and dangerously.

This is why he says a new police boat is necessary and wanted by residents in the borough and members of the yacht club.

“I think there was a passionate response for the need for us to have a new police boat and a police boat that… can have a rapid police response and have a presence,” said Mr. Celentano. 

The club has been fundraising, looking to supplement costs of the boat, for the borough. So far it has raised around $20,000 to provide fuel costs, training, equipment, insurance or anything needed to run the boat. The club also would provide a free boat slip and free winter storage.

Mr. Celentano said he thinks time is limited to have the boat ready for next season. 

“We will need 120 days for the boat to be ordered and built the way we need to be up to police standards in New Jersey,” he said. 

According to borough officials, the estimated cost of the boat to fill these state requirements is $79,000.

Police Chief Ferris said she would plan going forward, if the boat were to be operational, to supplement officers to patrol waters in Mantoloking. 

The borough council took no action with the boat following the presentation. 

“If people in the community, in boats that go back and forth and underneath the Mantoloking Bridge, know there is a police presence along our stretch of the water, they are going to go slower be more cautious and protect our estuary, our waterfronts, our children that are in boats, our seniors that are out there,” said Mr. Celentano.

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