Lake County Sheriff’s Department gearing up for summer safety

Department prepares for increased tourism

LAKE COUNTY — The Lake County Sheriff’s Department has prepared for another busy summer as festivals and events, tourism and recreational activities increase.

Sheriff Bob Hilts said the county’s year round population of around 11,000 residents rises to between 30,000 and 40,000 in the summer because of the many vacation homes and tourists.

With lakes and trails throughout the county, Hilts said his department prepares for the increase in recreational activity.

“We are a tourist community and a lot of our revenue is made off tourism,” Hilts said. “We gear up each year for the added amounts of people using off-road vehicles and quads.”

The sheriff’s department has extra patrols to monitor ORV and marine use, he said, and continuously works to keep people in the community safe.

“We do whatever we can to protect everyone,” Hilts said.

Lake County Marine Deputy Mike Neumann said when participating in any recreational sport, basic safety principles should be followed.

Neumann encourages using common sense, courtesy, having the proper safety equipment, knowing and following the laws and rules of the particular sport, and being tolerant of other’s inexperience.

Neumann stressed the importance of letting people know where you plan on going and when to expect you to be back before you go anywhere.

“Fun in the outdoors is a great thing, but when you venture out by yourself, whether on a boat, jet ski, ORV, four wheeler or whatever, it can be dangerous,” he said. “If something happens to you because of an accident, it’s a great help for us to know where you were going so we have an idea where to look to rescue you.”

Events like the Irons Flea Roast and Ox Market and Troutarama also keep the police officers occupied in Lake County.

Hilts said officers typically provide extra security for the large festivals and events throughout the summer.

“We monitor a lot of events, especially those where it’s a drinking event, because we don’t want things to happen that could ruin a good time,” he said. “We want everyone to have fun, but stay safe.”