The Pickens County Sheriff’s Department expands to the waterways

With the help of a military donation, the sheriff's department can save more lives with their own rescue boat.

PICKENS COUNTY, AL (WCBI) – The Pickens County Sheriff’s Department has a new rescue boat on hand.

For 30 miles, the Tombigbee River stretches across Pickens County, Alabama. And Pickens County Sheriff Todd Hall said it was time for his department to become aquatic.

“Just this past year we have had two flooding incidents that required that we had some assets for the river. We were fortunate enough to get help from local people, from community members that came in and donated their equipment to us to use. And that only reinforced the idea that we needed to have something or capabilities through our Sheriff’s Department,” Sheriff Hall said.

The department got the boat through a donation program with the U.S. Military.

After a year and a half of work, with the help from community donations, Justin White, the Jail Administrator, said it can now be a multiuse tool for the department.

“We’ll utilize it for helping stranded boaters, or god forbid that someone drowns and we need to help in a search and rescue or recovery effort. We’ll do whatever is necessary for us to take care of the individuals that use this waterway,” White said.

Sheriff Hall said the boat gives the department the ability to help more people, especially when state resources are unavailable.

“A lot of time, when you have an emergency on the river, time really counts. In the past, we’ve had to rely on state resources to come in. This allows us to be prepared and be able to respond in a timely manner,” Sheriff Hall said.

White said this resource is one that the department has needed for a while. Now, the waiting for help is over.

“Having this helps us to make sure that no matter who they are within the boundaries of this county of further away, we are able to help them and keep them safe and let them enjoy the waterways,” White said.

All Sheriff’s deputies will be trained on water safety protocols with help from the Alabama Marine Police.

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