Areas of Operation
Marine units patrol the 500 square miles of navigable waterways in the Police District, from the Connecticut state line which bisects the Long Island Sound, to the New York state line three miles south of Fire Island in the North Atlantic Ocean. Land areas covered include Fire Island and Jones Island barrier beaches and the islands of the Great South Bay. Marine units also respond to water and ice rescues on the inland lakes, ponds and streams of the District.
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The Bureau is staffed by 83 sworn officers and civilian personnel, augmented each summer by the addition of eight officers on seasonal assignment. Approximately 50 officers are Coast Guard licensed Masters (captains) and about 70% are Emergency Medical Technicians - Defibrillator (EMT-D). Barrier beach units, boats and the SCUBA team are available 24 hours a day.
Service to the Barrier Beaches
While about 500 people call Fire Island their year-round home, almost 70,000 people find their way to the barrier beaches on a summer weekend. Barrier beach units duplicate the services of a local precinct sector car, with some unique twists. Marine units are the only EMS service for all but two communities on Fire Island. (Victims are usually transported by boat or helicopter.) Barrier beach 4-wheel drive units are equipped with semiautomatic defibrillators to assist cardiac patients. The Bureau is service oriented and emphasizes community policing. Meeting regularly with the active civic groups in each community, officers anticipate demand for police service and vigorously enforce quality-of-life laws.
In addition to normal enforcement duties, Marine officers enforce the NYS Navigation Law and the Environmental Conservation Law, as well as local ordinances unique to the waterways and barrier beach. The Suffolk Police Marine Bureau aggressively enforces the New York State's boating while intoxicated (BWI) laws, and Suffolk County routinely leads the State in BWI arrests.
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The Marine Bureau takes pride in its all-terrain, all-weather capabilities. Boats equipped with radar, LORAN and satellite navigation, searchlights and night vision equipment respond through fog, rain, high winds and darkness. Winch-equipped 4-wheel drive units clear vehicles stranded by blizzards. All-Terrain Vehicles provide rapid response on the barrier beaches and assists precincts in specialized enforcement. When flooding threatens, deuce-and-a-half rescue vehicles, our AM General Hummer 4-wheel-drive vehicle and transportable boats are available to speed evacuations.
Click here for tips on safe driving on Fire Island
Suffolk County's Fleet
The core of the Marine Bureau fleet are the 40' patrol boats: Bravo in Huntington, Delta in Port Jefferson, and Juliett and Kilo in the western and eastern Great South Bay. Marine Bureau vessels are designated by a letter of the alphabet painted on the hull, and are referred to by the equivalent name in the international phonetic alphabet. (for example, the letter "J" is pronounced "Juliett")
The 25' Romeo and 27' Mike boats provide rapid response, and Mike doubles as the primary dive platform. The Bureau can also deploy one unmarked and five marked 22' Boston Whalers (Hotel, India and Whiskey 1, 2 and 3, ), three 20' Challenger high-speed enforcement boats (Echo 1, 2 and 3), a 25' Steigercraft patrol boat (Lima), and a Panther (Everglades-style) air boat (Tango) for ice rescues. Inflatables, rowboats, cartop boats and rafts complete the complement of watercraft.
These vessels respond on search and rescue (SAR) missions for overdue or disabled vessels and missing persons. Officers of the Marine Bureau are available, trained and equipped to tow disabled boats, dewater sinking boats, and perform marine firefighting. The Bureau also handles boating accidents and several officers are trained marine accident investigators. Marine units also handle disturbances on passenger ferries and charter boats, and transport police personnel and investigating officers to the barrier beach.
The Underwater Search and Recovery (SCUBA) Unit is comprised of nine officers and a supervisor. Divers are available 24 hours a day and can respond by vehicle, boat or deploy by helicopter with the assistance of the Aviation Section. Divers respond to water rescues, submerged vehicles and aircraft, evidence recovery and drownings. The Suffolk Police SCUBA unit played a major role in the recovery of victims and investigation of the crash of TWA Flight 800 in 1996.
How and When to Call Us
The Marine Bureau should be notified of any water-related incidents. We should also be informed of any unusual activity in waterfront areas which you may observe, such as patterns of larcenies, suspicious persons or boats, etc., so that we may direct our patrols. You can reach the Suffolk Police Marine Bureau in the following ways:
All Marine Patrol vessels and our headquarters at Timber Point maintain a watch on Marine VHF Channel 16.
To reach us directly, hail the Suffolk County Marine Police. If you have a police boat in sight, you can hail the vessel directly using its phonetic alphabet call sign, for example, if you see the "J" boat hail Suffolk Juliett.
In a true distress situation involving imminent life hazard, hail any station using the Mayday call.
Dial 911 for emergencies threatening life, property or the environment.
Dial 854-8382 for non-emergencies involving quality of life, questions about our services, or if you can provide information concerning crimes or other police matters.
Should you find yourself on the water in a distress situation, display your visual distress signals, which may be observed by police vessels, other boaters, or persons on shore.
Keep in mind that the resources of the Marine Bureau are a phone or radio call away, and the officers of the Bureau stand ready to assist you.
Above information provided by PO Daniel P. Smith and PO John J. Vahey