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Officers undergo intensive training in sought-after OPP program in Muskoka

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Over two dozen officers from across the province are undergoing intensive training in one of the Ontario Provincial Police's most sought-after programs.

"I've actually asked for this course for about 10 years, so I was finally put on the list to come, and I'm very happy about it," said Const. Craig Soldan with the Huron County OPP detachment.

OPP Sgt. Dave Moffatt has been a marine instructor since 2001, and said the officers learn how to safely patrol the water during the annual program.

"At the end of the day, it's to have these officers be proficient in what they do," Moffatt explained. "To operate it safely, to recognize hazards that are out there and also be ambassadors for the communities they go back to."

The marine training includes 33 hours in the classroom and over 30 hours on the water.

"We have officers that have never been in a boat before to officers that own their own boat," Moffatt noted, adding each officer learns how to prepare for any situation.

"I think the night navigation was probably my favourite part of the course. I've done some navigation courses before, but of course, operating at night in unfamiliar waters poses a unique challenge; it was really rewarding," said Const. Evan Taylor, with the Orillia OPP detachment.

By the end of the course, officers are fully certified by Transport Canada.

Despite the officers' training, the OPP reminds boaters to always be vigilant while on the water, noting one water fatality already in 2024.

"The boaters have to understand that they need to respect the water. Understand that the water can take your life away in a matter of seconds, and you have to prepare yourself," Moffatt said.

The first marine training group will wrap up on Friday, followed by 24 more officers who will start their training next week.

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