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WVDNR Police Complete Maritime Security Training

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — To prepare for the boating season, law enforcement officers from the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources have completed specialized training to help the agency protect boaters and respond to emergency situations on the state’s waterways this summer.

The intensive training, known as the Tactical Operator Course, was conducted on the Kanawha River, where officers from across the state came together for a week-long program at the West Virginia State Police Academy in Dunbar. The training is recognized by the U.S. Coast Guard and FEMA and facilitated by instructors from the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators’ Boat Operations and Training (BOAT) Program.

“We congratulate the law enforcement officers from the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources on completing this vital training,” said WVDNR Director Brett McMillion. “Our dedicated officers take great pride in their work, ensuring that our waterways and forests are safe for boaters, anglers, hunters and all those who cherish outdoor recreation. By acquiring advanced skills and knowledge through this training, our officers can better protect our natural resources and serve the public and we commend them for their commitment to excellence.”

During the week-long program, officers were trained to differentiate between compliant vessels, non-compliant vessels and vessels posing an imminent threat to high-value targets, which helps them assess and respond to potential risks in a variety of scenarios. The training also emphasizes techniques for dealing with non-compliant boat operators and equips officers to defend themselves, their units and high-value targets from vessels posing imminent threats.

“The completion of the training further enhances the capabilities of our law enforcement unit within the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources to respond effectively and efficiently when called upon,” said WVDNR Law Enforcement Section Chief Col. Bobby Cales. “By staying at the forefront of specialized tactical boat training, we bolster our ability to provide a safe and secure environment for all who utilize our waterways. Our officers’ dedication and the successful completion of this training are testaments to their commitment to public safety.”

The rigorous program included extensive hours of waterborne drills and scenario-driven exercises that challenged both the officers’ capabilities and the performance of their equipment.

“Marine law enforcement officials recognized the paramount importance of heightened maritime security after the tragic events of 9/11,” said Brad Williams, lead instructor for the training event. “Collaboration across multiple agencies is essential in today’s threat climate, as no single agency can provide all the necessary security. This training not only strengthens effective partnerships but also ensures safer waterways. The citizens of West Virginia can take pride in their Maritime Law Enforcement Professionals, whose exceptional performance throughout this training showcases their unwavering dedication to safety and security.”

With the completion of the training, the WVDNR is better positioned to uphold its commitment to protect the state’s waterways and create a secure environment for residents and visitors alike to enjoy West Virginia’s lakes, rivers and navigable streams.

To learn more about the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources’ Law Enforcement Section, visit WVdnr.gov/law-enforcement.

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