Throughout the US, port police departments are working more closely than ever with their IT departments as technology, such as sophisticated surveillance and monitoring systems, plays a larger role in fighting crime.
One port in particular – southern Louisiana’s Port Fourchon – is demonstrating how teamwork can pay dividends when it comes to day-to-day security issues and large-scale disaster response.
On any given day, Port Fourchon has more than 6,000 workers on land, and services around 15,000 workers offshore. Its jurisdiction covers the lower part of Lafourche Parish with roughly 35,000 residences. Its size alone creates challenges for the force.
According to Harbor Police Chief Jon Callais, the biggest day-to-day challenge is patrolling the land and water in and around the port, with more than 250 facilities and nearly 300 vessels moving through Port Fourchon each day.
Today, Harbor Police works closely with US Coast Guard (USCG) and US Customs & Border Protection. Regionally, it also works with Lafourche Parish Sheriff ’s Office, Lafourche Parish Government, Louisiana State Police, the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP), and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
Harbor Police and USCG’s Area Maritime Security Group plan regular drills and exercises to train officers for a variety of crisis situations. Callais said the port also stays up to date on the latest law enforcement technologies and tools, which can help the officers do their jobs more effectively. Many of those tools, including automatic identification systems and radar systems, in-car video and computers, and 24/7 camera feeds, are available in large part because of the port’s IT department.
But most of these technologies were not available to the port in the past. These days, it solves more crimes using cameras than with traditional patrols. For instance, all of the intersections at the port have a 24/7 camera, so if there is a crash, the camera reveals the cause without the need to interview witnesses. Cameras do not lie.
In recent years, the departments have been collaborating on another project, the GLPC-C4 Maritime Domain Awareness System, which the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) recently awarded its 2013 Information Technology Award. The four C’s in the system name stand for command, control, communications and collaboration – all essential functions of the system.