Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Protects Area’s Most Valuable Tourism Destination
By Space Coast Daily // May 19, 2018
Serving Four Million Cruise Passengers Per Year
BREVARD COUNTY • PORT CANAVERAL, FLORIDA – When a couple of thousand happy campers leave their cars to embark on a cruise out of Port Canaveral, one or two of them get so wrapped up in excitement of the moment that they take off with cars running and trunks open and even leave suitcases by the side of their vehicles.
“They’re so excited that they forget to do these things,” said Commander Alan Moros of the Cape Canaveral Precinct of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office.
In 2014, the Sheriff’s Office took over law enforcement duties at the request of the Canaveral Port Authority.
One of the many duties Moros’ officers are tasked to do at the Port is to make sure these cars and SUVs are locked and all valuables are safely stored, so when their owners return beaming from their vacations, they would not face unpleasant surprises awaiting them.
“We roll up the windows, turn off and lock the cars,” said Moros.
The officers also leave a sign telling the owners where they can pick up errant keys or forgotten luggage.
The service is part of the high degree of connection between the Sheriff’s Office and Port Canaveral, one of the world’s busiest cruise ports, with four million revenue cruise passengers per year and the most port-of-call ship visits of any Florida home port.
Of course, the Sheriff’s Office presence at the Port goes way beyond helping forgetful tourists.
“There are a lot of fronts we address,” said Moros.
For example, five K-9 teams trained in explosive detection regularly sweep the terminals and cargo area to check for bombs.
Marine units scour dock areas from the water before the ships tie in.
“They act as visible deterrents and look for any possible threats,” said Moros.
When one of the many pleasure boats has problems, the marine units step up to help, and back on land, deputies keep a wary eye on the Port’s extensive parking facilities to stop crime before it occurs. Any suspicious looking activity gets their full attention.
“The deputies know who does or doesn’t belong there,” said Moros.
Port Canaveral can be a security challenge, because it is so busy and complex. Boasting access on relatively uncongested access and from conveniently located airports, the Port is a visitor magnet because it can add Caribbean destinations to a Florida vacation.
Options abound, since Carnival Cruise Lines, Disney Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International offer a variety of cruises that range from three to nine days, and Victory Casino Cruises offers five-hour gambling junkets to nowhere.
Additionally, unlike Port Everglades, the Port of Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa and Jacksonville, Port Canaveral is an open port, which allows port services to be enjoyed not just by ticketed passengers, but also by the entire community.
“We’re the only port in Florida that has open access,” said Moros, who also notes that other ports require control visitors through security gates.
Port Canaveral offers more recreational opportunities than all other Florida ports combined and the attractions keep coming.
Exploration Tower, the Cove’s harbor-side dining and retail, Jetty Park’s campground and fishing pier will be joined by a redevelopment project that includes 250,000-square-feet of retail, restaurants, hotel and an outdoor amphitheater.
With the constant party atmosphere at the Port, there are bound to be some disruptive individuals, but the Sheriff’s Office is quick to keep the peace.
“There are a lot of special events at the Port, and for the most part, it’s a very low-key area, but every once in a while, you get an individual who gets too rowdy and we have to step in,” said Moros.
The Sheriff’s volunteer Mounted Posse offers a valuable service during special events that may include thousands of visitors. The posse raises awareness of the presence of the Sheriff’s Office and allows a better vantage point on any situation.
“They’re an excellent tool when it comes to getting some height on a crowd,” said Moros.
The fact that the Port borders Canaveral Air Force Station’s Naval Ordnance Testing Unit and its submarines adds an even greater degree of need for security.
Maintaining security at so many different levels could be pricey, but to keep costs down, the Port shares law enforcement personnel, primarily the corporals and sergeants, with the City of Cape Canaveral.
“The City and the Port share resources and reap the savings,” explained Moros.
There is a little respite, however. Although the responsibility of the safety and security of the docks is up to the Sheriff’s Office when the ships are at sea, when the vessels tie up, the terminals – and their security – are the responsibility of the specific cruise lines during the period of time their ships are at berth.
Of course, the Port is also much more than cruise ships. Cargo operations at Port Canaveral reaches a population of more than 58 million people in the Southeastern United States, not to mention markets in Central and South America, the Caribbean, Africa and Europe.
The Port’s cargo business will only get busier as it undergoes major general cargo terminal expansions, rail connectivity and diversification of cargo base. It is up to the Sheriff’s people to keep it secure.
The Sheriff’s Office vigilance even impacts local wildlife. Deputies have been known to save pelicans tangled in fishing line or struggling with fishing hooks on their beaks. When the occasional sea turtle gets into trouble, the Sheriff’s Office will come to its aid.
Whether it is for wildlife in trouble, for the security of cargo or for a cruise ship passenger’s safety, the Sheriff’s Office is there.
“We have a lot of fronts to navigate through to keep everyone safe,” said Moros. “We are always looking out for the safety of anyone who uses the Port.”
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