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American Shipper

U.S. Coast Guard seeks more police powers

U.S. Coast Guard seeks more police powers

   The U.S. Coast Guard is seeking additional law enforcement powers from Congress to help it carry out its mission of protecting ports and waterfront facilities, a top service official told a congressional panel.

   Under current law, Coast Guard officers lack express authority to arrest a person who commits a federal crime on shore and to carry a firearm while performing their duties on shore, Rear Adm. Larry Hereth said in prepared testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which held a hearing to review actions taken by the federal government to improve port security since the 2001 terrorist attacks.

   “Gaining this authority is a top legislative priority for the Coast Guard,” he said, adding he hoped the committee would support a provision included in the Bush administration’s proposed Coast Guard authorization bill.

   Chairman Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said he held the hearing because he was worried that port security is still too lax.

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