DEM's Environmental Police Unit is the Fourth Agency in the Country to Receive This Prestigious Distinction
PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management's Division of Law Enforcement has been accredited by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). The Division is the fourth state boating law enforcement agency in the country to receive this prestigious distinction.
As part of the accreditation process, an in-depth examination of the Division of Law Enforcement's training plans, means of documentation, file maintenance, and currency of qualifications for its officers in the areas of basic crew member, boat operator for search and rescue, and tactical operations was conducted. The review found that DEM was in perfect compliance with the national standards outlined in NASBLA's Boat Operations and Training (BOAT) program.
"I am extremely proud of the dedicated men and women who serve in DEM's Division of Law Enforcement," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "Our environmental police force has a round-the-clock responsibility on the state's waterways. This national accreditation is a tremendous honor and recognizes the high standards, knowledge, and skills our law enforcement officers employ as they work to protect Rhode Island's maritime community and important port resources."
Launched in 2009, the BOAT program establishes a U.S. Coast Guard-recognized national standard for the training, qualification, credentialing and typing of marine law enforcement and emergency first responders. The program brings all 56 states and territories together training to one standard, and becoming true force multipliers for the U.S. Coast Guard and the nation. Adapted from the Coast Guard's boat forces training framework, the BOAT program is comprised of vital maritime training and management components including system policy; training and qualification process; boat crew qualification tasks; program manager roles and responsibilities; boat crew currency maintenance; and documentation requirements.
"The BOAT program and this national standard assures the federal government and the citizens we serve and protect that these agencies, and DEM specifically, can safely and effectively work together and meet responsibilities on the nation's waterways as a unified team in any type of event," said Mark DuPont, National Director of NASBLA's BOAT program. "This is a very significant accomplishment, being the fourth agency in the country to achieve this accreditation. The citizens who frequent Rhode Island's waterways, and the officers that patrol them, should be proud of this recognition," commented DuPont.
DEM's Division of Law Enforcement is responsible for enforcing recreational and commercial fishing, shellfishing and lobster laws and regulations. Environmental police officers patrol fishing ports along Rhode Island's coast, and spend a great deal of patrol time afloat. Dedicated to maintaining the safety of the public, the Division of Law Enforcement is the lead agency in the state to enforce boating safety regulations and investigate recreational boat accidents. Marine officers also conduct water-based search and rescue operations, provide security for marine safety zones and for emergency fishing and shellfishing closures, conduct state beach and coastal park patrols, teach boating safety courses, and participate in numerous events to promote boating safety and environmental conservation.
Last year, 19 DEM environmental police officers completed a rigorous NASBLA training course aimed at standardizing homeland security response efforts in the maritime environment. The standardized training was designed to enable officers from the wide range of law enforcement agencies that respond to or are assigned to security events the ability to work cohesively together. As part of the training, participating officers became familiar with interagency security coordination and the response required of agencies operating cooperatively within the maritime domain. They were instructed on methods used to identify threats to high-value assets and critical infrastructure within the port environment, and were required to demonstrate abilities necessary to properly use defensive and protective boat tactics.
The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators is a national nonprofit organization that works to develop public policy for recreational boating safety. NASBLA represents the recreational boating authorities of all 50 states and the U.S. territories. NASBLA offers a variety of resources, including training, model acts, education standards and publications. Through a national network of thousands of professional educators, law enforcement officers and volunteers, the organization affects the lives of over 83 million American boaters. To learn more about how NASBLA continues to make the waterways safe, secure and enjoyable, visit http://www.nasbla.org. For more information on the BOAT Program, visit www.nasbla.org/BOAT.