Recreation Safety

Recreation Safety 

The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) Recreation Safety Section is responsible for providing Marine and Back Country patrols in designated recreational areas.  The unit also responds to emergencies 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Marine Patrol

Marine law enforcement and rescue patrols are responsible for ensuring safety and enforcement for the 18 lakes and 56 miles of navigable river within our county. The program operates year round, but is at maximum deployment May 01 through September 15 of each year. At maximum deployment, the section employs one full time Sergeant,  two full time Deputies and ten seasonal Deputies.  The hiring of seasonal deputies begins with the testing process in November or December in the year preceding the Marine Season.   Inquiries can be made to and

A Marine Event Permit Application may be found here.


Throughout the year, the marine program provides certified boating education courses to the public and conducts patrols on the various lakes and rivers in the county.  Kootenai County is home to more than 24,000 registered boaters, the largest number in the State.

The Marine program is a leader in the State when it comes to the service provided to the boater. We also host an 80 hour post certified marine academy; once trained, the marine deputies conduct several thousand vessel safety inspections and arrest dozens of intoxicated boaters off the water each year. Additionally, the Marine program teaches the State Certified Boating Education course to local students at no charge.  At the completion of the class, boaters are granted a boater safety card which is mandated to operate a vessel in all but five U.S. states.  Please visit for more information.


VSAR - Volunteer Search and Rescue

The Recreation Safety Section has management and oversight of the KCSO Volunteer Search and Rescue Unit. This (VSAR) nonprofit unit is made up of fifty plus sworn volunteer members with various skill sets.  VSAR's main focus is on Search Management and ground search efforts, including use of ATVs and snowmobiles.  Many of our members are also certified trackers or dog team members.  For more information on becoming a VSAR volunteer, please contact:

VSAR Volunteer Information

Back Country Unit

The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office has a dedicated Back Country Unit. This unit is made up of two full time Patrol Deputies who are assigned to the Recreation Safety Section. Their primary function is to conduct back country patrols and respond to calls for service.  The approximate size of the National Forest in Kootenai County is 250,000 acres.

The Back Country Unit patrols and covers the rural and forested areas of the county where special vehicles / equipment are used to gain access where they perform rescues and enforce off-road laws and educate the public in the use of such lands.

Dive Rescue and SONAR Teams

The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office Recreation Safety Section is charged with maintaining an active Dive Rescue Team and SONAR Team. 

The Dive team consists of thirteen divers and four shore support personnel. The divers train year round in various environments. The divers are trained in boat operations, swift water rescue, surface ice rescue, sub-surface ice diving, night-diving operations, and can dive to 100 feet. On average, the dive team responds to two dozen calls per year and is on call for rescue or recovery operations at all times.  Most Diver’s hold certifications in master open water, rescue, public safety, ice, night, full face, dry suit, and diver emergency medical provider.   The team trains monthly and continues to gain experience in various dive-related topics. 

The SONAR Team is a sophisticated scientific team which consists of nine members who operate a dedicated vessel with side-scan SONAR equipped via a tow cable. The team utilizes the equipment to conduct underwater searches at depths too deep for divers. The searches range from victims of drowning, sunken vessels, and lost equipment. 

Also utilized by the SONAR Team is a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). The ROV operates much like a drone, only under water. The ROV is used to recover drowning victims and items that are too deep and dangerous for divers to go. 

The SONAR Team trains year round in all conditions in order to better prepare for responses in the many seasons of North Idaho, and the region. They specifically train in search patterns, GPS positioning, boat operations, ROV manipulation, underwater topography, and triangulation of witness accounts on the water.

Any questions, information, or donations regarding any of the previously mentioned teams should be referred to