Monday, 18 July 2011

Sheriff tells Congress he needs more personnel to patrol shipping channel

The Houston Chronicle
Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia warned members of Congress last week that budget cuts to local law enforcement agencies could make the nation’s maritime borders vulnerable to terrorist attacks.
Testifying before a House Homeland Security Subcommittee, Garcia said a hiring freeze has already left his agency understaffed and overworked, leaving the economically important Houston Ship Channel Security District to be patrolled at times by a force not trained for maritime security.

The fiscal year 2012 Homeland Security Appropriations bill passed by the House cut grants to local and state law enforcement programs by $1.23 billion, a 55 percent reduction from grant programs in 2011, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., told the panel.
The appropriations legislation is waiting action in the Senate.
Garcia told the panel that local law enforcement agencies depend on this federal money. He declined to say specifically how many additional officers he felt were needed to patrol the channel, citing security concerns.

“We need additional resources to help us at the local level so we can stay ahead of domestic and international terrorism,’’ he said. “Our biggest challenge in securing the ship channel is the woeful shortage of these resources from all government levels.”
Alan Bernstein, director of public affairs for the sheriff’s office, declined to say how many officers now patrol the channel, also citing security concerns.
The channel, part of Port Houston, is a passage for ocean vessels coming and going from the Gulf of Mexico to Houston-area shipyards and oil refineries.

Garcia’s agency has received $30 million in Homeland Security grants for hardware upgrades but he said he needs additional money to fund salaries.
The Harris County sheriff’s budget received $382 million from the county for this fiscal year.
Documents recovered from the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, Garcia said, revealed that al-Qaeda considered attacking oil tankers like the ones that use the Houston channel.

Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, said budget constraints must force agencies from each level of government to work efficiently together but that protecting water borders should be a top priority.
“Ultimately, whether we are talking about narcotics, undocumented aliens, or those who might wish to do us harm, we know that people will take the route they perceive to offer the best opportunity to enter the country,” Cuellar said. “If we secure the land borders, people will try to come across our maritime borders and vice versa, so we must take a comprehensive approach to our nation’s border security.

Port Facilities and Maritime Security Courses offered by CTTA
The Canadian Tactical Training Academy (CTTA) is an organization devoted to worldwide training of peace and law enforcement officers, as well as all other professionals involved in the fields of security, investigation, protection and the maintenance of order.

CTTA offers a Port Facilities and Maritime Security course which includes the following topics:

•International Maritime Organization
•International Shipping and Port Facility Security Code(ISPS Code)
•Definitions and Responsibilities according to the ISPS Code
•Planning for Port Facility Security: The 3 Levels of Security
•Identification, Recognition, and Reaction to Threats: Concepts of Security
•Equipment Related to Port Security
•Security Measures for Port Security
•Fundamental Concepts Related to Port Security
•Education and Training Relative to Port Security 

The Academy also provides tailored security and safety oriented civilian training at both the individual and corporate levels.

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