PORTSMOUTH, Va. – Rear Adm. Sally Brice O’Hara, Commander, Fifth Coast Guard District and the Commonwealth of Virginia Governor Mark Warner will
formalize an important maritime security partnership at a signing ceremony to be held at 10 a.m. Monday at the Renaissance Hotel.
The partnership, known as a Memorandum of Agreement, allows Coast Guard law enforcement crews and Virginia Marine Police
officers to better work together to ensure the safety and security of Virginia’s waters and waterfront facilities, including those in the Port of Hampton Roads and the National Capitol Region.
“We’re working across traditional agency boundaries to make America stronger in the maritime domain,” said Rear Adm. Brice O’Hara. “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.
Under the terms of the agreement, Virginia Marine Police
, 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 agreement extends our ability to work together to keep the Port of Virginia safe and operating," Governor Warner said. "The Port is safer and more secure today because of the strong cooperative relationship that exists between the Commonwealth and our federal partners, including the Coast Guard."
The Memorandum of Agreement will enhance a long-standing, strong relationship between the Coast Guard and the Virginia Marine Police, and will allow for more effective use of enforcement resources in Virginia. The Memorandum of Agreement incorporates Virginia and Federal laws specifically targeted at strengthening the ability for state enforcement officers to assist the Coast Guard.
This signing will be the third in the nation, and the second since Federal law was changed in August, 2004. Maine and the Coast Guard entered into a memorandum of agreement in April 2004; New Jersey and the Coast Guard in December 2004. Additionally, the Coast Guard is hoping to come to a similar agreement with North Carolina.