Reporting Gigi Barnett
BALTIMORE (WJZ)– As the nation prepares to remember the Sept. 11 attacks this weekend, the state says its 7,000 miles of coastline need more protection.
Gigi Barnett reports police agencies are turning to people who work on the water for help.
Just after the Sept. 11 attacks, Maryland’s waterways were on high alert. Massive ships coming into the Port of Baltimore with billions of dollars in cargo were under scrutiny. Now, on the eve of the 10th anniversary, that kind of strict security is still around.
“The efforts to combat terrorism never stop, whether it’s 10 years from the event or 20 years,” said Capt. Mark O’Malley, U.S. Coast Guard.
But the state’s law enforcement agencies say they can’t cover the water alone. They hope those extra eyes come from people who work with cruise ships, at the port or the Inner Harbor.
That’s why the Maryland Natural Resources Police is launching a program called “See Something, Say Something” to train them.
“Anything that they see, however minor, whatever it may be, we want them to bring it to our attention,” Col. George Johnson, Maryland Natural Resources Police, said.
Cargo ship captain Eric Nielson knows what to look for.
“What we would have taken of a curiosity and a sight-seeing venture to take pictures of the Bay Bridge, now, we realize it could be quite different. And we take appropriate action,” said Capt. Nielson, Association of Maryland Pilots.
Maryland’s seafood industry alone creates more than 7,000 jobs and $1 billion in revenue every year. So experts say any type of attack on any one of the state’s maritime industries could cripple the state’s economy.
“It’s a constant issue, something we work on continuously,” Capt. O’Malley said.
And now, especially on the anniversary of 9/11.
Several agencies are teaming up with the Natural Resources Police on the new program, including the Coast Guard.