Marine Patrol Division Steps Up Patrols

While our troops are fighting a war in Iraq, others are protecting our shores and waterways here at home. Patrols are spending extra long shifts on the water. WTOC went out with the Chatham County Marine Patrol Division today, and they really want boaters that use the Savannah waterways to know things are different now that the possibility of terrorist attack is so real. They say if you're in a boat and you're in this vicinity, you're going to get stopped.

For months, officers have been working overtime, stopping boats up and down the Savannah River.

"We'll perform safety checks and at random," explained Sgt. Pete Leopold. "We'll do a complete search of the vessel."

And they'll keep boats away from larger ships. One docked at the Georgia Ports is filled with toxic ammonia.

"If a terrorist were to attack, it would be more deadly to the City of Savannah," noted Leopold.

The Marine Patrol Division is working in conjunction with the Coast Guard, and the fact that a terrorist attack in our country and in Savannah's waterways is very possible has kept them busier than ever.

"It does stretch us out as far as our normal enforcement of waterways, wake zones, etc.," said Leopold.

And they want to get word out to boaters that if you're on the water, it's more than likely you're going to get stopped. And they have the arsenal to do it.

"At the end of the day, the vessel will be stopped one way or another," promised Leopold.

Another thing officers want to stress is that you can help. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of eyes and ears along these waterways, and if you seen anything suspicious or out of the ordinary--even someone taking pictures in an odd place--call police immediately.

Reported by: Elizabeth Garcia, egarcia@wtoc.com