Port Manatee enhances security while facilitating record commerce

While Port Manatee’s record-setting cargo volumes have been stealing the headlines, Manatee County’s seaport has quietly been enhancing its around-the-clock security to facilitate the swift, efficient flow of increasing genuine commerce and avert movement of unauthorized people and goods.

During the past year, Port Manatee’s highly trained security staff has bolstered its role, assuming functions that previously had been the responsibility of terminal operators. By doing so, redundancies have been eliminated, allowing the highest levels of security to be provided at the lowest cost as growing amounts of diverse cargos cross port docks.

To ensure safety and protection at all times, nearly three-dozen security officers – representing the seaport’s largest department – work in collaboration with a full spectrum of local, state and federal enforcement agencies, from the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission to U.S. Customs & Border Protection, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Manatee County residents should rest easy knowing that port security is on duty 24/7 every day of the year, including holidays and when natural disasters strike. For example, when Hurricane Irma struck in September, port security remained in place, ensuring that critical landside operations – such as the movement of fuel-carrying trucks – could proceed even as waterside activity was under federal suspension.

September also brought news that Port Manatee had been awarded a $946,950 U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant that will allow a doubling from two to four outbound lanes at the main gate, greatly expanding capabilities for meeting federal screening requirements for rapidly rising numbers of fuel trucks and other commercial vehicles leaving port property.

The grant also will help the port enhance its contingent of screening equipment, upgrade its main gate intercom system and update credential readers.

Credentialing remains a critical component of securing Port Manatee’s 1,100-plus-acre property, as the port continues to meet post-9/11 mandates for Transportation Worker Identification Credentials, or TWICs. Indeed, Port Manatee was one of the first U.S. ports to fully implement electronic verification requirements of the TWIC program, including biometric reading.

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