Page Police Department: Lake Powell Operations

January 6, 2018

Just before the New Year, it was brought to LPNN’s attention that there is conflicting information regarding the Page Police Department’s Boat, which was featured in the City’s Christmas Parade. The differing information has led to conflicting ideas and understandings about the police department’s use of the boat, and authority on Lake Powell the Page Police Department may or may not have.


As a result of this information being brought to LPNN’s attention, LPNN reached out to the Page Police Department for clarification on this matter.




LPNN sent Lt. Jones a list of questions pertaining to the Page Police Department’s use, authorization, and jurisdiction when it comes to emergency services on Lake Powell.


To summarize what LPNN learned, the boat was donated to the Page Police Department in 2015 by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Prior to the donation, in 2010, the City of Page City Council at the time, approved an annexation/corporate expansion of Page’s city limits, part of which incorporated the area of Lake Powell known as “The Chains” into its jurisdiction. After the annexation, any responses or services required of the Page Police Department on Lake Powell were conducted in boats borrowed from other agencies specifically for the response. While staffing constraints currently do not allow for the Page Police Department to conduct full-time patrols through their portion of Lake Powell, they do operate on the lake during special occasions and when needed to respond to any incidents.


While it may seem to some that the Page Police Department is not authorized to conduct services and respond to emergencies on Lake Powell, given that the lake is considered to be under federal jurisdiction, Lt. Jones provided LPNN with the city ordinance and map showing the City’s 2010 Annexation which included incorporation of “The Chains”. Lt. Jones also provided LPNN with what state and federal statutes give the Page Police Department jurisdictional authorization on the lake, including a very comprehensive explanation (LPNN has provided links at the bottom of this article to each of the sources for your convenience). Rather than try to summarize the legalities surrounding the Page Police Department’s jurisdictional authority and losing part of the explanation, it is best you read it for yourself.


Here is the full exchange between LPNN and Lt. Jones:


LPNN: LPNN understands the boat was a donation from the National Park Service. When was the donation received?


Lt Jones: The boat was actually a donation from the Arizona Game and Fish Department.  The transfer was signed on September 30, 2015 and the Motion to Accept Delivery was approved by Page City Council on October 15, 2015. 


LPNN: Why was the boat donated or necessary?


Lt. Jones: Due to the annexation by the City of Page in 2010 (Ordinance 556-10-attached), the Page Police Department has jurisdiction over a small portion of Lake Powell (see attached map).  Since the annexation and prior to the Page Police Department obtaining a boat, other agencies (Coconino County Sheriff’s Office and National Park Service) have provided boats to assist the Page Police Department for investigation of incidents in our jurisdiction.  This was a courtesy extended by those agencies.  The Page Police Department felt that it should be able to respond adequately to areas within our jurisdiction in the event assistance from other agencies was not available.



LPNN: How often is the Page Police Department involved in situations on Lake Powell?



Lt. Jones: Due to staffing issues, currently we only deploy the boat a few times each year for special events (4th of July weekend, Memorial weekend, etc.) or on an as needed basis responding to incidents.  As staffing increases allow, the boat can be deployed more regularly.  


LPNN: What exactly is the Page Police Department’s role on Lake Powell?


Lt. Jones: As with any area within the jurisdiction of the Page Police Department our primary role is to protect the lives and property of our diverse community by preventing and reducing crime. In addition, the Page Police Department’s role within the City and on the lake is not exclusively to enforce the law.  The Page Police Department regularly acts to assist or protect the public under its community care taking function.  As such, when on patrol at the lake, the Page Police Department may assist a swimmer that is in danger of drowning, provide water to an individual who is dehydrated, or perhaps offer a tow to a stranded boater.



LPNN: How does this work (logistically speaking) since the lake is under federal jurisdiction?


Lt. Jones: The basic rule is that the police power of the state extends to all navigable waters within its limits provided it does not interfere with the power of Congress to regulate navigation and commerce. Riley v. Rohde, 1934 [AGO 1953 No. 18].  In the case of People v. Reilly, 1939 [AGO 1953 No. 18], this rule is stated as follows "A municipality may impose reasonable police regulations on maritime craft within the particular locality under the jurisdiction of the municipality in the interests of public safety and welfare."  The federal jurisdiction is exclusive with respect to all civil actions arising under the admiralty jurisdiction vested in the United States by the Constitution.  There is no indication in this title that the federal government has ever attempted to supersede the police power of the state with regard to purely intrastate operations.  Nor is there any indication that policing jurisdiction over criminal matters of a purely local nature was intended to be superseded.  The jurisdiction and authority of the Coast Guard with respect to law enforcement, is set forth in Title 14, § 89 (a), U.S.C.A.  This jurisdiction is also dual in nature, being tied directly to [USC] Title 33 [Navigation and Navigable Waters], and, broadly speaking, reaching all navigable waters, geographically. (Eastvold, 1953) [AGO 1953 No. 18]


The starting point for any discussion on maritime law is the subject of admiralty jurisdiction. Admiralty jurisdiction is founded on the U.S. Constitution. Article 3, section 2.  Inland waters and state territorial waters are areas of overlapping state and admiralty jurisdiction when a waterway is a navigable waterway of the United States. (Orlando, 2001) [Admiralty Jurisdiction]


There is no doubt that the waters of Lake Powell are navigable waters.  The lake is clearly within the geographical jurisdiction of the Coast Guard.  As indicated above, however, there is no indication in Title 33 that the federal government ever intended to assume exclusive policing jurisdiction over the waters of Lake [Powell]. (Eastvold, 1953) [AGO 1953 No. 18]


There are currently many entities that have overlapping or concurrent jurisdiction on Lake Powell, both state and federal (US Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary, National Park Service, Coconino County Sheriff’s Department, Kane County Sheriff’s Department, Utah State Parks, Arizona Game and Fish, Page Police Department, etc.).


In addition, there are several state statutes that govern the use of watercraft within Arizona (see A.R.S. Title 5, Chapter 3) and thus fall under the jurisdiction of the Page Police Department. These laws include boating while intoxicated and various regulations governing the operation of watercraft.  Pursuant to A.R.S. 5-391(B), the Page Police Department has an obligation to enforce the boating regulations within the City boundaries (“All peace officers of the state, counties and cities shall enforce the provisions of this chapter and all laws and rules relating to the operation of watercraft”).


LPNN: Is there an inter-agency agreement between NPS and the Page Police Department for lake services?


Lt. Jones: Yes, there is an agreement, although not specifically for ‘lake services’. It is a mutual aid agreement (see attached).


LPNN: Are there situations within city limits in which the Page Police Department would need to utilize the boat?


Lt. Jones: I assume this is referring to areas within city limits outside of Lake Powell.  We have not identified areas in the city, outside of the lake, in which the boat would be utilized, other than ceremonial situations (parades, etc.)




AGO 1953 No. 18:


Admiralty Jurisdiction:


Title 14, § 89 (a), U.S.C.A.


USC Title 33


A.R.S. 5-391(B)


A.R.S. Title 5 (This is the full Title. You must scroll down to find Chapter 3)


Other References and Documentation




LPNN would like to thank the Page Police Department, and Lt. Jones for all of the information provided. In addition, this article will be updated with more source material, pending a response from other agencies.








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