Alabama Marine Police Awarded Two Homeland Security Grants
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) Marine Police Division has been awarded two grants totaling $545,194 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The grants were awarded through the Port Security Grant Program (PSGP) administered by FEMA, and will be used to purchase two new patrol boats, one for the Port of Mobile and one for the Port of Guntersville.
ADCNR will be partnering with The Alabama Department of Homeland Security to utilize the new patrol boats as part of an overall protection strategy for the state.
Alabama Homeland Security Director Jim Walker said, “The larger patrol boats will be new assets to Alabama allowing us to extend our protection capabilities on the water. The Alabama Marine Police will have the ability to provide increased security and stay on water-related incidents longer.”
The new boats will be larger than those in the current Marine Police fleet, and can operate under severe weather conditions allowing for more flexibility in emergency situations. When necessary, the new patrol boats will serve as mobile command and control platforms that can accommodate FBI, State Trooper or SWAT assistance.
The new boats will be in operation by the summer of 2010.
The ports of Mobile and Guntersville were chosen to receive the grants based on their strategic importance as shipping channels. Mobile is the 10th busiest port in the country based on tonnage passing through the port. The high amount of shipping traffic each port experiences creates a need for more security resources.
According to Lt. Ryan Bennett of the Alabama Marine Police Division, the communications capabilities of the new boats are a welcome improvement over the current fleet. “The integrated radar, GPS, and chart-plotting equipment give the boat all weather capabilities, and will allow us to stay at a scene for days if needed,” Bennett said. “This is a quantum leap forward over the way we’ve had to operate in the past.”
The port security grants fall under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), and provide funding to port areas for the protection of critical port infrastructure from terrorism. The funds are primarily intended to assist ports in enhancing maritime domain awareness, and to prevent, respond and recover from terrorist attacks.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com