Shiprider program proves key to successful law enforcement on Great Lakes

Written by Petty Officer 2nd Class Levi Read

The crew of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police boat patrols the Detroit River just south of the Ambassador Bridge and the skylines of downtown Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, while carrying a U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement officer during a Shiprider patrol demonstration April 30, 2015. Shiprider is a program that enables specially-trained officials, from both Canada and the United States, to pursue or interdict suspected criminals transiting across the shared maritime border. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Levi Read.

The crew of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police boat patrols the Detroit River just south of the Ambassador Bridge and the skylines of downtown Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, while carrying a U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement officer during a Shiprider patrol demonstration April 30, 2015. Shiprider is a program that enables specially-trained officials, from both Canada and the United States, to pursue or interdict suspected criminals transiting across the shared maritime border. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Levi Read.

 

A Shiprider team, officially known as Integrated Cross-border Maritime Law Enforcement Operations, made up of representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, arrested two U.S. citizens and seized more than 1,500 pounds of contraband tobacco over the international border near Algonac, Michigan, April 28, 2015

The illegal water pipe tobacco had a retail value of approximately $485,000, including nearly $205,000 in evaded duties and taxes.

“This is a great success for the Shiprider program, and it comes on the heels of an operation last month in which U.S. and Canadian law enforcement exercised the very same cross-border interdiction capabilities and authorities as used for this case,” said Capt. Scott Lemasters, commander of Coast Guard Sector Detroit. “We couldn’t be more pleased with the result.”

The Coast Guard and RCMP, along with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, Homeland Security Investigations, Ontario Provincial Police and Canadian Border Security Agency took part in the arrest of two individuals following their transport of noted contraband over the international border in the vicinity of Walpole Island in northern Lake St Clair.

To show continued support and growth for the Shiprider program, the Canadian governor general, the Right Honourable David Johnston and Coast Guard Rear Adm. Fred Midgette, commander Coast Guard 9th District, visited with officers from both countries. They also observed an integrated cross-border Shiprider demonstration.

The Governor General is the ceremonial Commander-in-Chief of Canada and is the Head of State, equivalent to the U.S. president.

David Johnston, governor general of Canada, talks with Royal Canadian Mounted Police Corporal Jay Schooley and Rear Adm. Fred Midgette, commander Coast Guard Ninth District, during a Shiprider demonstration on the Detroit River near downtown Detroit, April 30, 2015. Shiprider is a program that enables specially-trained officials, from both Canada and the United States, to pursue or interdict suspected criminals transiting across the shared maritime border. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Levi Read.

David Johnston, governor general of Canada, talks with Royal Canadian Mounted Police Corporal Jay Schooley and Rear Adm. Fred Midgette, commander Coast Guard Ninth District, during a Shiprider demonstration on the Detroit River near downtown Detroit, April 30, 2015. Shiprider is a program that enables specially-trained officials, from both Canada and the United States, to pursue or interdict suspected criminals transiting across the shared maritime border. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Levi Read.

“Shiprider is yet another wonderful example of Canadians and Americans working together,” said Johnston. “We’re fortunate to share a border that’s secure yet allows people to cross freely — more than 400,000 people a day, in fact.”

“We share many things with our friends in Canada – and one of the most important is our reliance on these Great Lakes for safety and security,” said Midget. “Few initiatives illustrate this more clearly than the Integrated Cross-border Maritime Law Enforcement Operations – or Shiprider.”

Canada-U.S. Shiprider represents a cooperative approach to combating cross border crime on Canadian and U.S. shared waterways.

The international maritime boundary is removed as a barrier to law enforcement by enabling seamless continuity of enforcement and security operations across the border.

Shiprider involves vessels jointly crewed by specially trained and designated Canadian and U.S. law enforcement officers who are authorized to enforce laws on both sides of the international boundary line. Working together, armed Canadian and U.S. law enforcement officers are able to transit back and forth across the border to help secure it from threats to national security, as well as prevent cross-border smuggling and trafficking.

Specific enforcement activities consist of detecting, monitoring and potentially boarding vessels in either Canadian or American waters.

From Canadian waters, RCMP vessels designated as Canada-U.S. Shiprider vessels have a member of the U.S. Coast Guard on board and are able to enter U.S. waters to enforce U.S. laws under the supervision of the Coast Guard officer.

Likewise, Coast Guard vessels designated as Canada-U.S. Shiprider vessels have a member of the RCMP on board and are able to enter Canadian waters to enforce Canadian laws under the supervision of the RCMP officer.

Petty Officer 2nd Class David Tourmo, a maritime enforcement specialist at Coast Guard Sector Detroit, talks on a hand-held radio during a Shiprider boarding demonstration on the Detroit River near downtown Detroit, April 30, 2015. Shiprider is a program that enables specially-trained officials, from both Canada and the United States, to pursue or interdict suspected criminals transiting across the shared maritime border. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Levi Read.

Petty Officer 2nd Class David Tourmo, a maritime enforcement specialist at Coast Guard Sector Detroit, talks on a hand-held radio during a Shiprider boarding demonstration on the Detroit River near downtown Detroit, April 30, 2015. Shiprider is a program that enables specially-trained officials, from both Canada and the United States, to pursue or interdict suspected criminals transiting across the shared maritime border. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Levi Read.

“Both Canadians and Americans are didicated to border security,” said Johnston. “What could be a better image of this than RCMP, U.S. Coast Guard and other law enforcement officers working together on the same boat?”

By authorizing these officials to operate on either side of the border, the U.S. Coast Guard and RCMP have developed a more efficient means of securing both sides of the border without violating the sovereignty of either nation.

“This program is so important, because so much of our border runs through waterways,” said Johnston. “The Detroit River, the Niagara River, the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes – all pose challenges for border security.”

Five operations were conducted as pilot programs from Shiprider between 2005 and 2010. These operations provided the basis to gain governmental support for the framework agreement between the countries.

  • Detroit-Windsor area in September 2005;
  • Canada-U.S. Shiprider for Detroit Super Bowl XL in Feb 2006
  • Two simultaneous Canada-U.S. Shiprider Pilot Projects from August to October 2007 in Cornwall/Massena (Ontario-New York State) and the Strait of Georgia (British Columbia and Washington State)
  • The 2010 Winter Games Canada-U.S. Shiprider Security Operation in Vancouver
  • The 2010 G20 Shiprider Security Operation in support of the G8/G20 Summits in Toronto

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