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NRP Wins Award for State of the Art Enforcement Tool

A screen shot from MLEIN of the targeted dredge boat inside the boundary of the oyster sanctuary.

A screen shot from MLEIN of a targeted dredge boat inside the boundary of the oyster sanctuary.

Maryland’s newest tool to detect natural resources lawbreakers, protect the homeland and assist boaters in distress was recognized earlier this month by the Maryland Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration at its annual meeting in Baltimore.

The Agency Award for Innovations in Public Service was presented to DNR Deputy Secretary Frank Dawson and Capt. David Larsen of the Maryland Natural Resources Police on May 13 for the development and use of the Maritime Law Enforcement Information Network (MLEIN).

Launched in the fall of 2013, MLEIN is a system of cameras and radar units that allows law enforcement officers and first responders to track and monitor distressed or suspicious vessels and allows NRP to gather and store evidence of illegal activity on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

“This is MLEIN’s first full season on the Bay, acting as an extra set of eyes for our officers,” said Col. George F. Johnson IV, NRP superintendent.  “As we refine and expand its capabilities, and officers grow more comfortable working with it, we are confident the result will be more arrests and more convictions of poachers who steal Maryland’s natural resources.”

MLEIN was developed through $5.6 million in Port Security Grant awards from the Department of Homeland Security. Maryland has invested an additional $1 million in the project.

The system, based on technology developed by the Pentagon, lets authorities establish an invisible, protective boundary around sensitive assets, such as bridge foundations or wildlife sanctuaries. Dispatchers in the DNR communications center and officers with laptops on shore and in patrol boats are alerted by alarms when the perimeter is breached.

NRP is making the system available to allied agencies to improve public safety by allowing first responders to use the cameras to locate and assess maritime emergencies and send the appropriate assistance.