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Published July 10, 2011, 10:00 PM

Authorities Patrol Tubing in Red Lake Falls

Red Lake Falls, MN - Red Lake County authorities are beefing up river patrols in a unique way during a favorite summer past time, tubing.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ

Red Lake County authorities are beefing up river patrols in a unique way during a favorite summer past time, tubing. Three people drown in the county last summer. Community leaders called for additional security to avoid such tragedies this year.

Floating down the river on a tube is where you will find Joey Olson spending part of his Minnesota summer. He is one of thousands of people that visit Voyagers View tubing in Red Lake Falls to tube the Red Lake River.

Joey Olson - Tuber: “It just a good time to visit your friends and have some fun.”

That fun usually involves coolers of alcohol for the majority of the floating parties.

Brad Johnson – Red Lake County Sheriff’s Dept: “Having this kind of recreational business is like added a few more bars.”

Chief Deputy Brad Johnson and other officers are putting extra hours this summer to make sure people are being safe. The move comes after three people drown in the county last year; two of them were tubing and over the legal alcohol limit.

Brad Johnson - Red Lake County Sheriff Dept: “We have few problems its just when we do have them they are very unfortunate.”

To prevent problems; for the first time the sheriff's department is using a jet ski to patrol the water and has added two river access points along the tubing route. Johnson says even with improvements; it's tough to keep certain dangers from surfacing.

Brad Johnson – Red Lake County Sheriff Dept: “Relatively impossible. About all we can do is isolate a problem and try and get it to shore and have enough access to have uniform officers handy and available.”

Johnson says it's usually not just the float down the river where most of the problems can start. It's often here on a sandbar, known as the island which is about in the middle of the tubing run.

Brad Johnson – Red Lake County Sheriff Dept: “That island and the stopping and staying to long and and excessive alcohol consumptions all go hand and hand.”

The sheriff's department now tries to regulate how long people are spending here. Johnson says on busier days, more than 200 people can be partying here.

Brad Johnson – Red Lake County Sheriff Dept: “We are very happy to have people come and visit our community. But we want to make sure they go home again and then come back and visit us again.”

But those tubing say the extra security isn't all that bad.

Joey Olson - Tuber: “It doesn't bother me at all, because if there actually is somebody in trouble there is somebody there to help out.”

Andy Ellenson - Badger: “I don't mind it. They are not bothering us out there. It's all good and if there are keeping people safe it's good.”

There are few tickets given out on the river. One reason, there's no state law dealing with alcohol consumption on a tube.

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