DMR Takes On More Duties In Homeland Security

Paul Grote spends ten hours a day protecting boaters and enforcing laws on the water. He is one of 38 patrol officers with the Department of Marine Resources.

Patrol Officer Paul Grote said "We're out here all the time. We're quick to respond. If something happens on the water, we're here".

But since September 11th and the national push for Homeland Security, the DMR's duties have expanded. DMR Spokesperson Lauren Thompson said "With Coast Guard Station Pascagoula, we've taken over all search and rescue operations east of Deer Island, and we're ready to assist the Coast Guard in any other way we can".

Now, the officers are more aware of anything that might seem suspicious from the Louisiana to the Alabama state lines. Grote said "Power plants, refineries, bridges, especially the commercial harbors here, we pay a lot closer attention to some of those places than what we're used to".

The DMR is also pulling in reserve officers to beef up patrols and making sure all their officers are prepared for any emergency.

Thompson said "A priority for us is training for our officers, ongoing training, both Hazmat, which is hazardous materials, as well as nuclear, biological and chemical weapons".

Patrol officers, like Grote, say they're ready to answer any distress call and make sure our waterways are safe. Grote said "We're not here just to write tickets, we're here to help. I'll do everything I can to help protect this country".

If you want to report any suspicious activity or emergency on the water, call the D.M.R. at this toll-free number 1-800-294-5551.