U.S., Canadian Coast Guards work together to protect shared border

CLEVELAND — The U.S. Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police concluded a two-day joint law enforcement operation Sunday along the shared international border at the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Personnel from the RCMP’s marine unit in Kingston, Ontario, and Coast Guard Station Alexandria Bay, located on Wellesley Island, N.Y., conducted the patrols as part of the collaborative program known as integrated cross-border maritime law enforcement operations, referred to informally as Canada-U.S. Shiprider.

As a result of the operations, several vessels were stopped and boarded by specially trained and designated members of the Coast Guard and RCMP.

Cross-border crime is a two-way challenge that has implications for both U.S. and Canadian citizens. Shiprider removes jurisdictional road blocks associated with an international border. It allows specially trained and cross-designated U.S. and Canadian law enforcement officers to work side by side while under the direct supervision of the host country officer.

“I saw firsthand how the removal of the international boundary as a barrier to law enforcement enhanced maritime security on the St. Lawrence River,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Brandon Liesen, officer in charge at Station Alexandria Bay. “I look forward to teaming up with RCMP Kingston in the future to continue strengthening our partnership.”

“These operations with the U.S.Coast Guard eliminate the international border as a barrier to law enforcement activities,” said Sgt. Rick Hudson, RCMP Kingston Detachment. “Protecting the safety and security of Canadians does not start or end at the border anymore.”

In 2009, the U.S. secretary of homeland security and Canada’s minister of public safety signed the Framework Agreement on ICMLEO between the U.S. and Canada to govern the deployment of operations.

In June 2012, Canada passed legislation, with respect to the framework agreement, which paved the way for ICMELO operations. The final two policy agreements were signed between the two countries in June 2013, enabling Shiprider operations.

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