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Operation Shield focuses on marine security

Some 30 marine patrol agencies banded together over the Labor Day weekend for a security sweep of vessels using Suffolk County waterways, on the lookout for possible terrorist activity, illegal entry into the country and other maritime infractions, according to the county sheriff's office, coordinator of the initiative.

Called Operation Shield, the patrols checked 395 vessels, 46 of them foreign; reported five federal violations, such as failure to report arrival into the country; and found 130 other violations, related mostly to equipment and registration issues, said John Andrejack, commanding officer for the sheriff's marine patrol.

No arrests were made, Andrejack said.

When it comes to inspecting 280 marinas in one weekend, such a group effort is needed, he said.

The operation, funded by the state's Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Service's Office of Counter Terrorism, also leads to "improved coordination and communication" among law enforcement professionals, Sheriff Vincent DeMarco said in a news release. This was the county's eighth such security sweep since the operation's 2009 start, the release said.

Among the agencies participating were the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Office of Customs and Border Protection, New York State Division of Homeland Security, local police and bay constables.

The boating public can help with ongoing efforts by being vigilant and reporting suspicious vessels, Andrejack said.

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