The Lake County Sheriff’s Office unveiled a new Fluid Watercraft Inflatable Patrol Boat with twin 225 horsepower engines and capable of carrying 14 passengers to patrol waters on Lake Michigan. | Photo: Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit will resume patrolling Lake Michigan waters thanks to a new watercraft named in honor of a fallen Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy.

Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli said the sheriff’s office received delivery of a new Fluid Watercraft Inflatable Patrol Boat with twin 225 horsepower engines and capable of carrying 14 passengers.

Sheriff John Idleburg commissioned the new watercraft, Covelli said, and it has been operational by Marine Unit Deputies since the onset of this year’s boating season.

“Adding a sheriff’s office watercraft on Lake Michigan is very significant,” Idleburg said. “Response time in an emergency is crucial, and having a sheriff’s boat available will increase the likelihood of lives saved during search and rescue missions.”

The new boat is named in memory of fallen Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy Gary D. Murphy, who was killed in the line of duty in June of 1976.

The Marine Unit is conducting patrols of Lake Michigan and will be capable of responding to emergencies within Lake County’s 900 square miles of nautical boundaries, Covelli said.

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The Lake County Sheriff’s Office has been unable to patrol Lake Michigan since 2018 due to an outdated watercraft being retired because of multiple mechanical and safety issues.

The Lake County Board approved the replacement of the watercraft earlier this year, Covelli said.

Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg gets a look at the new Fluid Watercraft Inflatable Patrol Boat with twin 225 horsepower engines capable of carrying 14 passengers. | Photo: Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

The watercraft will be stored in a secure dock at North Point Marina in Winthrop Harbor when not in use thanks to a contribution, Covelli said.

“We are grateful for our partnership with North Point Marina and thankful for their assistance in allowing us space to dock our boat,” Idleburg said.

The sheriff’s office will coordinate patrols with both agencies through an ongoing partnership with the United States Coast Guard and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police, Covelli said.

Members of the Coast Guard and Conservation Police will have the ability to respond with the Sheriff’s Marine Unit to emergencies on the new watercraft.

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The new watercraft will be operated by sheriff’s personnel possessing a Coast Guard Captain’s License, Covelli said.