Monday, May 20, 2019

Security concerns the latest item of note for the fate of Alaska Ferry Terminal in Prince Rupert

US Customs and Protection agents at Fairview Terminal are calling for
a permanent armed presence at the Prince Rupert station

With the Alaska Government awaiting a review of the Alaska Marine Highway Service and what it may look like in the future, one more item has been added to the list of potential reasons that the Alaskans could bring an end to their Ferry Service travels to Prince Rupert.

Ketchikan radio station KRBD has put together a detailed story that highlights the latest issue for local officials to navigate, that as they work to ensure that the Alaska Marine Highway Service continues to make Prince Rupert a destination.

In a story posted to the KRBD website on Friday, Alaska public radio reporter Ed Schoenfeld outlines how the need for armed security for Border Enforcement personnel in Prince Rupert has now been requested by the  American Federal agency that oversees border security and without it, there is a very good chance that the Alaska System could stop serving this community.

The AMHS may be calling on the
Prince Rupert RCMP on a contract
basis for additional security
at  the Fairview Bay terminal
The Prince Rupert Terminal is used for pre clearance for travel into Alaska, though US Customs and Border Protection officers working at the terminal currently conduct their work un-armed, with discussions reportedly underway to possibly change that status.

With the situation still unresolved to their satisfaction, the USBPS has now advised the Alaska Marine Highway System that the current situation of un-armed officers was no longer acceptable; calling for armed assistance from the RCMP during hours of terminal operation in Prince Rupert.

The Alaska Public Radio story includes this letter from Customs to the AMHS General Manager Captain John Falvey

The working plan outlined for the Terminal by AMHS officials,  would be to have the armed presence provided by the RCMP on a contract basis.

Currently RCMP members only attend to the terminal if requested by the Alaskan officials to deal with any immediate threats, or law enforcement concerns.

A synopsis from the City of Prince Rupert last year's Annual Report noted that the Prince Rupert's detachment currently operates with between 35 and 41 operational members, with funding recently granted for two additional positions for policing in the community.

As KRBD explains the situation, should the request for armed assistance to protect their officers and the travelling public not be met, the US Border Service has the option of serving notice to the AMHS, effectively shutting down inspection service at the Fairview terminal within thirty days of formal notification.

At the most recent Prince Rupert City Council session, Mayor Lee Brain outlined how he has been actively working on the topic of the ferry service between the two communities, though he did not make any mention of the US Customs issue as part of his talking points of last Monday.

As part of his comments from the May 13th meeting, the Mayor advised council he has plans to deliver a community update on the theme of the Ferry Service at one of the upcoming Council sessions.

For more items of note on the Alaska Ferry System service in Prince Rupert see our archive page here.

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