Parkinson’s naval vessel now operational

March 4, 2015
Sheriff Ian Parkinson

Sheriff Ian Parkinson

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson has unveiled his 27-foot Defender Class boat that will allow sheriff’s personnel to step up their battle against drug smugglers frequenting local shores.

Parkinson showed off the approximately $350,000 boat on Tuesday near Avila Beach. He acquired the vessel by attaining nearly $500,000 in federal funds in order to deal with the influx of panga boats arriving in San Luis Obispo County.

Last year, Parkinson told the board of supervisors that he needed the defender class in order to tow pangas, and that it was costing the county nearly $10,000 to tow each of the smuggling boats. However, officials from the U.S. Coast Guard and Homeland Security department said they never charged the county for towing the drug boats, nor for taking part in criminal investigations relating to them.

Sheriff’s personnel are now saying that they will also use the boat to intercept the pangas before they reach county beaches. The federal funds Parkinson acquired likewise included money for night vision goggles and a thermal-imaging camera to detect pangas at sea, sheriff’s officials said last year.

The new boat has two motors with 300 horsepower each, and it can reach speeds up to about 60 mph. The sheriff’s office plans to usually station the boat in Morro Bay.

Approximately 15 pangas have beached in San Luis Obispo County in the last three years.



  1. Theo P. Neustic says:

    This is going to be excellent entertainment. When they run into the first rock or flip it over in the surf. Unfortunately, there are a lot of good causes that money could have gone to.

    (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  2. Josh Payne says:

    If only cannabis were legalized federally, the Mexican cartels wouldn’t need to smuggle their schwag into the States.

    (4) 6 Total Votes - 5 up - 1 down
    • mbactivist1 says:

      I saw a news story recently that indicated this has worked well in some parts of Europe.

      (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
    • Citizen says:

      That’s true, but our water basin would be drained by “farmers” buying land and growing marijuana in the county.

      (1) 7 Total Votes - 4 up - 3 down
  3. mkaney says:

    Sheriff Parkinson didn’t “need” this boat for any purpose. All he needed was an excuse to use to put on the grant request, and that’s where the Pangas came in. A little research has shows that the company who built the boat, SAFE Boats International, received $6 million in earmarks from the federal government after spending $300,000 on lobbying through the firm Denny Miller Associates. On its web site the firm touts its ability to help local agencies get the federal grants ( They advertise their military grade boats at law enforcement conventions all over the country and show you how you can waste public money to buy their toys.

    Since 2002, the population of SLO County has increased by about 7.5%. In that same time the crime rate has actually dropped (nationwide AND in SLO County). Meanwhile, the budget for the Sheriff’s Department has gone from $32 million per year to $64 million per year. $53 million, that’s right, FIFTY THREE MILLION DOLLARS is spent on salaries and benefits, for the equivalent of 399 full time employees. That is an average of over $134,000 per employee (all classifications included, like admin assistants).
    Why is our Sheriff buying three mobile license plate readers, three movement sensor kits, six pairs of night-vision goggles and a thermal imaging camera? Is this going to be used by the special enforcement team which they keep renaming and moving around the county? Does he think he is a special agent in a Mission Impossible movie?
    Do people think that when individuals are making this much money, they actually have any incentive to try to keep crime low resulting in long term funding decreases? What happens when they run out of criminals and start looking for boogeyman among average residents?

    (22) 26 Total Votes - 24 up - 2 down
  4. SloTownMan says:

    Why do we never hear what happens to the illegal aliens they catch on the ponga boats?

    (8) 8 Total Votes - 8 up - 0 down
    • justbeware says:

      Because it’s the same thing that happens
      to lots of other illegal aliens that come here.
      They get a court date they never show up for,
      sign up for medi-cal, aka Obamacare,
      get a driver’s license,
      and now file a tax return so they can get a refund.

      (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
      • Theo P. Neustic says:

        You left out, “register to vote” as a Democrat of course.

        (-1) 3 Total Votes - 1 up - 2 down
  5. Paso_citizen says:

    I’m sure some of you can remember a TV series (also a movie) with Earnest Borgnine
    call “McHale’s Navy”.

    Can’t you just picture the chase between this boat and a panga! Hopefully, they will
    have someone on board with a camera – submit to AFV – should win. Zipping around the ocean, wearing night googles, and using thermal imaging cameras. Boggles the mind.

    And what about the $10K Barney, I mean Parkinson, said it cost the county to tow pangas
    even though the Coast Guard and Homeland Security said they never charged the
    county?? Does this not sound a little like the NBC news guy (Brian Williams) who
    took liberty with the truth about being shot down in Afganistan and was put on a
    6 month LOA without pay. Just to puff himself up.

    Sounds like Parkinson is trying to make himself look magnificent and saving the county
    huge towing fees in order to justify this boat (wonder what story was told in order to
    win the grant??). Bet it included the $10K towing fees not being charged?

    For me, the real answer will be for “Parkinson’s Navy” to intercept just one (1) panga
    before it dumps its drugs on the beach. Anybody want to place a bet on when this will

    (20) 24 Total Votes - 22 up - 2 down
  6. SamLouis says:

    I suspect there is more than one existing licensed operator around that would have towed ALL the pangas for a $5K/year contract.

    This is repugnant.

    (15) 15 Total Votes - 15 up - 0 down

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