Law enforcement agencies increase presence on Southern California waters

LOS ANGELES – This week federal and local law enforcement agencies will be working in a combined effort to make Southern California waters safer and improve agency interoperability.

Officers from the U.S. Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, Orange County Sheriff’s Department, L.A. Port Police, LAPD, and Long Beach Police will be taking part in the Coast Guard operation.

“The focus is on port security and public safety. We’ll have people in the air, on the water and even under the water,” said Coast Guard spokesman Lt. j.g. Andrew Muñoz.

The joint agency operation is a culmination of months of planning. Coordinated efforts such as these are becoming a regular occurrence according to Muñoz.

“Being able to capitalize on the expertise and diverse resources of the different agencies in the area has been instrumental in making our ports and coastal waters safer and more secure,” said Coast Guard Captain Paul Wiedenhoeft.

Wiedenhoeft is the Commander of Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach. He is responsible for port safety and security as the Captain of the Port and Federal Maritime Security Coordinator for 320 miles of coastline from Orange County to San Luis Obispo County.

“Whether it’s the L.A. or Long Beach Fire Departments providing divers or one of our law enforcement partners providing a boat or officers to conduct a vessel boarding, each comes to the table willing to be a part of the team,” said Wiedenhoeft.

L.A. County Sheriff’s Dept. special weapons team, paramedics, divers, arson/explosives detectives, explosive detection canines and HAZMAT detectives will conduct commercial vessel boardings with the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, and L.A. Port Police.

Boaters are likely to be visited by officers of the L.A. Port Police, Long Beach Police and Orange County Sheriff’s Dept. who will be performing vessel safety equipment inspections with the Coast Guard.

“This week carries heavy significance in our national memory, and it’s a good time to remind ourselves of the responsibility both law enforcement and the public share in homeland security,” said Muñoz.

According to Muñoz community members can report suspicious activity through the America’s Waterways Watch hotline at 1-877-24-WATCH or 9-1-1 if immediate law enforcement assistance is required.

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