Texas Game Wardens Deploy New Homeland Security Measures

Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701, steve.lightfoot@tpwd.texas.gov

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Program Aimed at Radiological and Nuclear Threat Detection along Coast

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GALVESTON – Texas game wardens, along with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office and the United States Coast Guard, are deploying an impenetrable maritime border to stop the threat of radiological or nuclear material smuggling into U.S. waters.

Game wardens patrolling Texas’ coastline will be utilizing newly-acquired advanced detection equipment that, will help keep the state, its maritime ports and international borders, and the nation safe from a potential radiological or nuclear threat.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is the state’s primary maritime law enforcement agency responsible for patrolling, protecting and preserving its resources, critical infrastructure and economic vitality throughout its 4 million surface acres of coastal waters and 16 deep water ports. As such, TPWD provides an essential partnership service and critical element of layered security in the port environment by utilizing and employing diverse resources, with mandated port security responsibilities in the areas of protection, prevention, deterrence and response.

TPWD involvement in the radiological and nuclear material detection effort will support the National Maritime Security Strategy and the Department of Homeland Security Small Vessel Security Strategy.

Since January, state game wardens have been conducting land search exercises, waterborne vessel stop exercises, and dockside searches as part of an intensive training program on radiological and nuclear matter and the use of the equipment to detect and identify these dangerous materials. This training culminated recently with a mock exercise that encompassed both land and maritime law enforcement assets working cooperatively to locate several nuclear and radiological sources. The Department of State Health Services Radiological Health Team provided all the live sources for the training.

“Through our near-shore patrol crafts, off-shore vessels, aviation assets, special operations teams, and robust intelligence contributions, Texas game wardens are on the front lines of the nation’s national security framework,” explained Texas Game Warden Assistant Commander Cody Jones, who serves as the state’s head boating law administrator. “While we focus on our core mission of conserving and protecting the state’s natural resources, enforcing game and fish laws and conducting water safety, it is imperative that we continue to deploy the tools required to keep our homeland safe from illegal activity and terroristic threats that face our nation.”