FWC News Release
Contact: Capt. Roger Young, 813-376-6418

Regional Domestic Security Task Force (RDSTF) members wrapped up five days of training today in Tampa Bay. The RDSTF consists of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, including the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). The training prepares members to protect stationary and moving high-value assets and security zones in Florida’s ports and waterways.

RDSTF members are trained and equipped to prevent and respond to domestic security incidents. The RDSTF was created after the terrorism acts of Sept. 11, 2001. The Waterborne Response Teams (WRT) is an element of the RDSTF and specifically protects the state’s ports and waterways. The teams also perform security details for various large-scale waterside events, provide dignitary protection and serve as first responders to other critical incidents and natural disasters, including floods and hurricanes.

Assistance by the WRTs comes at the request of a federal authority and made through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).

The FDLE charged the FWC with developing a coordinated protocol for state and local marine units to respond seamlessly and in concert with the U.S. Coast Guard should an event occur in the waterways of the state. They are activated through the State Emergency Operations Center.

There are 37 WRTs, eight of which are from the FWC. Although the FWC facilitates the planning and protocol of the state’s teams, the conservation agency’s primary role is one of support when local law enforcement agencies are overwhelmed and need help.

Members from the Collier, Hillsborough, Manatee, Orange and Pinellas County sheriff’s offices trained with FWC officers. They practiced protecting assets such as nuclear power plants, major seaports and ships, and security zones. In addition, they received training in vessel pursuits. The newly trained members will return to their regions prepared to train other members of the WRTs.

“This opportunity to practice and train with other law enforcement agencies with marine units enhances the state’s capabilities to respond better to any all-hazard event on the water,” said Capt. Roger Young, FWC’s WRT co-coordinator.

The FWC patrols and protects Florida’s inland waterways, 8,400 miles of tidal coastline and up to 200 miles offshore.