Thursday, July 14, 2011

The USCG Marine Patrol Officer Course

Excerpt from U.S. Coast Guard Proceedings of the Marine Safety & Security Council magazine by Mr. Mike Baron, Recreational Boating Safety Specialist, U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Division Program Operations Branch

To meet the requirements of the Federal Boating Safety Act of 1971, the Coast Guard established the National Boating Safety School. Although the course was originally focused on federal requirements and basic boating safety law enforcement techniques, over the years legislation was enacted that required states to take the primary role in their own recreational boating programs.

In support of these new requirements, the Coast Guard launched the National Safe Boating Instructor Course in 1983 with a curriculum focused on training law enforcement officers to conduct boating safety classes for the public while also training fellow marine patrol officers as instructors.

In 2000 the curriculum was updated to include practical field knowledge, training methodologies, and skills, and the course name was changed to the Marine Patrol Officer Course.

The course is two weeks long and is conducted four times each year.
During the first week, students alternate between training methodologies and skills development to develop a training session based on the federal carriage requirements for recreational boating safety. The officers present their training session at the end of the week to the other officers in class and the MPOC staff.

The second week is devoted to field skills. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Academy staff conduct training on boating under the influence regulations and detection, firearms laws, navigation rules scenarios, and water survival techniques. National Association of State Boating Law Administrator instructors conduct training on boating accident response and the reporting process. An instructor and certified marine investigator from the International Association of Marine Investigators conduct classroom training on stolen boat identification, followed by a practical field exercise.

Attendees also practice tactical procedures in “shoot houses.” These scenarios are performed in a mock-up building that resembles a ship as well as aboard a former break bulk freighter-turned-training-platform that is part of the FLETC’s training resource inventory.

Who Attends MPOC
The Marine Patrol Officer Course is open to all federal, state, and local marine patrol officers. As the course curriculum is not designed for senior boating safety officers, the preferred candidate possesses less than seven years of experience in boating safety. The ideal candidate demonstrates good potential to train fellow law enforcement officers or to teach boating safety to the public.

The student’s agency or department is responsible for transportation to and from Charleston, S.C. The Coast Guard provides all training materials, lodging, and meals. To date nearly 3,000 marine patrol officers have graduated.

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