As the mandate to secure U.S. waterways continues to evolve, the U.S. Coast Guard
and the New Jersey State Marine patrol forged an important partnership which highlights the necessity for cooperation among federal, state and local authorities.
Rear Adm. David Pekoske, Commander, First Coast Guard District, Rear Adm. Sally Brice O'Hara, Commander, Fifth Coast Guard District and New Jersey Acting Governor Richard J. Codey formalizes
the maritime security partnership last month. The partnership, known as a Memorandum of Agreement, allows Coast Guard law enforcement crews and New Jersey State Marine patrol officers to better work together. Under the terms of the agreement, New Jersey state officers, working with the Coast Guard, will have the authority to stop and board vessels and take enforcement action against persons violating Federal security zones created by the Coast Guard. This signing was the second in the nation, and the first since Federal law was changed in August, 2004. Maine and the Coast Guard entered into a memorandum of agreement in April 2004.
"We're working across traditional agency boundaries to make America stronger in the maritime domain," said Vice Admiral Vivien Crea, Commander of the Coast Guard's Atlantic Area. "As lead agency for Maritime Homeland Security, we must rely on our law enforcement partners at the federal, state and local level to ensure the safety of the American people. Working together like this just makes sense," she said.
The Coast Guard has established several homeland security zones within the regions of the Port of New York and New Jersey, and the Port of Philadelphia. The zones include the Global Marine Terminal in Bayonne; Ports Newark and Elizabeth; and areas surrounding critical infrastructure sites. The two agreements give New Jersey State Police the power to patrol and enforce laws in those homeland security zones.
Prior to this action, State Police did not have the power to stop, arrest or issue citations to boaters violating the security zones. Instead, State Police would have to contact and wait for the Coast Guard, whose assets might not be nearby.
"New Jersey is at the forefront on homeland security. We've invested more than $300 million in State funds on security efforts; we are a national leader in bioterrorism preparedness; and we're working with the private sector to safeguard critical industrial sites," Acting Governor Codey said.
"Today we've reached another milestone in our efforts to keep New Jersey safe
. Our State Police has been designated by the Coast Guard to patrol and enforce the Coast Guard's homeland security zones. New Jersey is only the second state that has received this designation. It is a testament to our own efforts on homeland security and the great training and professionalism of our State Police," the Acting Governor continued.
Acting Governor Codey has pointed out the need for greater homeland security funding for the ports. President Bush's fiscal year 2005 budget includes only $46 million for port security grants nationwide - far less than the $400 million America's ports have identified as a minimum level of needed support.