FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 16, 2012
AT SCHUMER’S URGING, U.S. COAST GUARD & LAW ENFORCEMENT WILL MEET WITH HUDSON VALLEY BOATERS TO ADDRESS PLAN TO PREVENT REPEATED & UNNECESSARY BOATER STOPPAGES ON THE HUDSON RIVER
In An Effort To Better Coordinate Redundant Boat Stoppages on Hudson River, Schumer Called On Coast Guard to Meet with Boaters, State & Local Agencies to Speed Up Development of Widely-Recognized Boat Inspection Sticker System – Coast Guard Ready To Do Exactly That
As Spring Boating Season Approaches, Schumer’s Effort to Eliminate Repeated Boat Stoppages Would Minimize Hassle for Boaters, Free Up Law Enforcement For Higher-Priority Threats
Schumer: This Meeting Could Help Transform Boat Inspection Plan Into Reality
After a push from U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, the U.S. Coast Guard today agreed to meet with the Marine Trades Association of New York, Boating Safety Advocates, and local law enforcement to discuss ways to better coordinate boater patrols on the Hudson, so that boaters are not repeatedly and unnecessarily stopped. Rear Admiral Linda Fagan of the Coast Guard Sector New York will be holding a roundtable with representatives of the law enforcement community, leaders of boating groups and her staff on Friday, March 9th on Staten Island. Schumer is pleased that the Coast Guard has scheduled this meeting, and believes that it will allow the Coast Guard to work hand-in-glove with law enforcement agencies and put into place the best protocol for ensuring the safety of boaters and our critical infrastructure, while allowing for recreational enjoyment of the Hudson River for both residents and tourists.
“The first step to untangling the overlapping bureaucracy is to have boaters sit down with the Coast Guard so that they can discuss these issues face to face,” said Schumer. “That’s exactly what’s going to happen. I’m hopeful that law enforcement and boating advocates can hash out a way forward that keeps the Hudson safe, without draining all the fun right out of the river. Rather than screen one boat six times, we need to develop a program to screen six boats one time. By streamlining our inspection process and providing widely recognized inspection stickers, we can provide a better experience for recreational boaters and free up security resources to protect nuclear power plants and bridges, and ensure that the river is safe. Spring boating is right around the corner, so I hope the meeting lays the foundation for a new system that satisfies both boaters and law enforcement professionals alike.”
Schumer noted that this meeting is particularly timely, as streamlining this system would allow the Coast Guard to begin implementing new policies for boaters as they undock in anticipation of the spring boating season. Schumer’s successful push for a meeting involving stakeholder and law enforcement marks a major step in his effort to achieve better coordination between all levels of law enforcement in order to boost security and let boaters enjoy their recreation. Last summer, Schumer sent a personal letter to Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Robert J. Papp after a series of media reports documented concerns over coordination between federal agencies, which had resulted in recreational boaters being stopped multiple times by different agencies on the same day. According to the New York Times, approximately two dozen agencies have jurisdictional responsibility over boating on the Hudson River, including local sheriffs’ departments, state agencies, and the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard already uses a PDA system that links up various patrolling boats so that officers know which boats have been screened and cleared, and those that have not.
However, state and local agencies do not have a system by which they can keep easy tabs on which boats have been screened, and there appears to be insufficient information sharing between all three levels of local law enforcement. The annual inspection sticker system currently utilized by the Coast Guard could potentially fill that void, if the inspection stickers were recognized by all levels of law enforcement. Schumer noted that not only will the use of a widely recognized inspection sticker minimize hassle for boaters, but would free up law enforcement officials, and allow their positive influence to be spread more widely throughout the community. Schumer’s call also follows July 2011’s deadly boating accident on the Hudson in which four people were killed. Since this issue came to light, Schumer has pressed the Coast Guard, the primary enforcement agency for boaters in the Hudson River, to take a lead role in improving coordination between patrolling agencies.