Yesterday, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Chief Janet Napolitano, Rear Admiral Joseph Castillo of the Eleventh Coast Guard District, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, and representatives from Congress and local law enforcement agencies publicly inaugurated and toured the new Maritime Law Enforcement Training Center at the Port of Los Angeles.
The center, which is the first of its kind in the United States, offers police from around the nation a five-week course in maritime security. The state of California provided $4.5 million for the officers' curriculum, and the federal government gave $3 million for the facility and salaries of faculty.
The first class of 24 officers began their education at the center two weeks ago. They are being schooled in maritime law and terrorism awareness, among other curricula, all of which had been approved by DHS and the California Emergency Management Agency. The center includes classrooms, a helicopter landing pad, and floating docks.
Napolitano also used the occasion to promote the "If You See Something, Say Something" campaign to engage the public and key frontline employees to identify and report indicators of terrorism, crime, and other threats to the proper transportation and law enforcement authorities, as well as the Los Angeles Police Department's similar program, iWATCH, which encourages workers and tourists to report questionable activities at the port to the proper authorities.
♦ Photo of Port of Los Angeles by Konabish/Flickr