The mission of the Marine Unit is to enforce state laws as well as local and county ordinances, and to promote safe boating. Duties include responding to calls for assistance, investigating criminal complaints and boating accidents, watercraft safety inspections, search and rescue as well as crowd control and security. The Marine Unit works closely with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, McHenry County Sheriff’s Department and the U.S. Coast Guard.
The economic downturn reduced the Marine Unit’s staff, leaving 15 part-time Sheriff’s deputies, 1 part-time administrative staff and 1 command officer. Four patrol boats monitor the Fox Chain of Lakes, another patrol boat monitors inland waters, and 1 patrol boat monitors Lake Michigan waters. One personal water craft (PWC) is available as required for additional patrols.
The Marine Unit patrols the following 3 regions; the Fox River, inland waterways and Lake Michigan. The Fox River Chain O’Lakes is the busiest inland recreational waterway per acre in the United States. The 9 interconnecting lakes provide over 6,000 acres of boating waterways. Inland waterways are patrolled by smaller watercraft or PWCs. In addition, the Marine Unit patrols 26 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline extending to the center of the lake (approximately 39 miles from shore). Patrol boats on Lake Michigan are equipped with sophisticated electronics, ensuring the greatest level of safety and assistance to recreational boaters.