Governor Ehrlich Lauds Homeland Security Measure
Legislation allows for greater authority to enforce Chesapeake Bay security zones
ANNAPOLIS -- Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. today lauded a homeland security measure President Bush signed into law that enables the Maryland Natural Resources Police greater authority to enforce U.S. Coast Guard security zones around the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant and the Cove Point Liquefied Natural Gas facility on the Chesapeake Bay in southern Maryland.
“This legislation enables even more cooperation between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Coast Guard, and a key state law enforcement entity with a long history of protecting our citizens and the Bay,” said Governor Ehrlich.
The Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) is a fully empowered Police Department, which maintains a fleet of vessels used to patrol the Chesapeake Bay for law enforcement purposes. With this legislation, NRP now has the legal authority to enforce what the Coast Guard deems as “exclusion zones,” or critical areas that restrict access to waters surrounding the two locations. Both Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant and the Liquefied Natural Gas facility are protected locations where public access is limited to protect them from potential acts of terrorism.
“We pushed for this legislation for the simple reason that tight coordination between Maryland state and local law enforcement and the Coast Guard increases public safety,” said the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security Director Dennis R. Schrader. “We work closely with the Coast Guard in places like the Port of Baltimore and want to increase that cooperation in more of Maryland.”
The measure similarly applies to Calvert County law enforcement who, like NRP will be empowered to enforce the security zone. With the expanded authority NRP and local police will have full powers for possible violations of the security zone. The measure was included in a Coast Guard authorization bill, which was developed by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. DNR and the Governor’s Washington and Homeland Security offices worked with Congress to promote the need for the provision to assist officers of both the Coast Guard and NRP in their policing duties.
“Homeland Security is a high priority issue with the Maryland Natural Resources Police,” said Col. Mark S. Chaney, Superintendent of the Natural Resources Police. “And this important legislation is essential to our anti-terrorism efforts.”
The Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) is an enforcement arm of the Department of Natural Resources. With an authorized strength of 214 officers and a dedicated staff of civilian and volunteer personnel, the Natural Resources Police provide a variety of services in addition to conservation and boating law enforcement duties throughout the State of Maryland. These services include search and rescue, emergency medical services, education, information and communications services on a round the clock basis. NRP is the only police force aside from the Maryland State Police that has statewide jurisdiction.