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New ‘Captains’ qualified at Tulalip

From left, Tulalip Tribal members Bruce Williams and Eric Cortez, Tribal Police Officer David Sallee, Shawn Edge of Skagit, Tribal boat operator Robert Guss, Zenith Maritime instructor Capt. Richard Rodriguez, Tribal member Andrew Penter, Justin Huggins of Alaska and Tribal member Adam Cepa are all now qualified as as Coast Guard Masters. - Courtesy photo
From left, Tulalip Tribal members Bruce Williams and Eric Cortez, Tribal Police Officer David Sallee, Shawn Edge of Skagit, Tribal boat operator Robert Guss, Zenith Maritime instructor Capt. Richard Rodriguez, Tribal member Andrew Penter, Justin Huggins of Alaska and Tribal member Adam Cepa are all now qualified as as Coast Guard Masters.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

TULALIP — Not only does the Tulalip Police Department work to cross-commission its officers, but it’s also making an ongoing effort to qualify the members of its Fisheries Enforcement Team as Coast Guard Masters, also known as “Captains.”

Tulalip Police Cmdr. Robert Myers explained that the department’s first group of officers not only qualified as Coast Guard Masters last year, but also got certified in Commercial Assistance Towing, through Zenith Maritime. A second group of officers, along with a group of Tribal boat operators, is set to receive the same qualifications and certifications within the coming months, for a total of four officers and four boat operators.

Each group spent two months in preparatory classes, while the Tribal participants also received eight credit hours from the Northwest Indian College for completion of the course.

“It was a pleasure to work with these dedicated mariners, who will bring a new degree of professionalism to their work in support of Tribal fisheries,” Zenith Maritime instructor Capt. Richard Rodriguez said.

Course graduates are qualified to operate vessels up to 100 tons and 200 feet long, and the course focuses on teaching practical applications rather than preparing for tests. The Zenith Maritime school is approved by the U.S. Coast Guard and tests on site.

“We don’t actually need this level of qualification of to operate our own boats, but it gives us a more professional standing among mariners,” Tulalip Police Sgt. Chris Gobin said. “Besides, with the restrictions on commercial fishing holding our fishermen more accountable, we should set the bar high for our officers and boat operators as well.”

“The course covers marine rules and boat operating safety,” Myers said. “It gives us a better understanding of what we’ll encounter out on the water. By learning how to plot out the points of tides and currents, we become better navigators and more effective at search and rescue missions.”

Myers and Gobin thanked the Tulalip Tribes for supporting their training, both through funding and allowing time off for the officers to attend the course. Myers expressed the hope that another Tribal group can be sent through the course before the end of this year.

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