On June 17th, the RCMP and U.S. Coast Guard Thirteenth District formalized their standard operating procedure for Shiprider during a signing ceremony at the Peace Arch Provincial Park pavilion in British Columbia.
The event was attended by Consul General Denis Stevens, United States Consul General Anne Callaghan, RCMP Deputy Commissioner Craig Callens and USCG Rear Admiral Keith Taylor.
In addition to RCMP patrol vessels, residents of British Columbia will now see United States Coast Guard vessels with RCMP officers onboard. Canadians need to be aware that if they are approached by a United States Coast Guard vessel in Canadian waters, they need to comply with their request as they would with an RCMP vessel.
Canada-U.S. Shiprider, officially known as Integrated Cross-border Maritime Law Enforcement Operations (ICMLEO), represents a truly cooperative approach to combating cross border crime on Canada and U.S. shared waterways.
Canada-U.S. Shiprider removes the international maritime boundary as a barrier to law enforcement by enabling seamless continuity of enforcement and security operations across the border, facilitating cross-border surveillance and interdiction, and serving as both a force multiplier and, potentially, as a model for other U.S./Canadian cross-border (integrated) enforcement and security initiatives.
How the Canada-U.S. Shiprider Works
Canada-U.S. Shiprider involves vessels jointly crewed by specially trained and designated Canadian and U.S. law enforcement officers who are authorized to enforce the law on both sides of the international boundary line. Working together, armed Canadian and U.S. law enforcement officers are able to transit back and forth across the border to help secure it from threats to national security, as well as prevent cross-border smuggling and trafficking.
Specific enforcement activities consist of detecting, monitoring and potentially boarding vessels in either Canadian or American waters.
In Canadian waters, Canada-U.S. Shiprider operations are subject to Canadian laws, policies and procedures and all operations are undertaken under the direction and control of the RCMP. RCMP vessels designated as Canada-U.S. Shiprider vessels have a member of the USCG on board and are able to enter U.S. waters to enforce U.S. laws under the supervision of the USCG member.
Likewise, USCG vessels designated as Canada-U.S. Shiprider vessels have a member of the RCMP on board and are able to enter Canadian waters to enforce Canadian laws under the supervision of the RCMP officer.
By authorizing these officials to operate on either side of the border, the USCG and RCMP have developed a more efficient means of securing both sides of the border without violating the sovereignty of either nation.
Past Canada-U.S. Shiprider Operations
Five Canada-U.S. Shiprider pilots were conducted as a "proof of concept" for the Integrated Cross-border Maritime Law Enforcement Operations (ICMLEO). The following operations provided the basis to gain governmental support for this framework agreement:
- Detroit-Windsor area in September 2005;
- Canada-U.S. Shiprider for Detroit Super Bowl XL in Feb 2006
- Two simultaneous Canada-U.S. Shiprider Pilot Projects from August to October 2007 in Cornwall/Massena (Ontario-New York State) and the Strait of Georgia (British Columbia and Washington State)
- The 2010 Winter Games Canada-U.S. Shiprider Security Operation in Vancouver
- The 2010 G20 Shiprider Security Operation in support of the G8/G20 Summits in Toronto
FAQ – Shiprider
Why was this partnership developed?
Canada-U.S. Shiprider is a modern and innovative solution to targeting cross border criminality, along with other criminal activities, on the waterways shared between our two countries. The Shiprider model – whereby officers have cross-designated status – removes the international maritime boundary as a barrier to law enforcement.
This "reciprocal" arrangement places specially trained and cross-designated Canadian and American law enforcement officers on the same vessel. This allows for a seamless continuity of enforcement, and for security operations to travel back and forth across the border, permitting cross-border interdiction that otherwise would not be possible.
Where exactly can the powers handed to law enforcement officers from the 'visiting' country be applied in the 'host' country; How far across the border does their authority extend?
Integrated Cross-Border Maritime Law Enforcement Operations (more commonly referred to as Shiprider) can only take place in undisputed, shared waterways along the Canada-US border (internal waters or the sea) and designated officers only maintain their status during the course of a Shiprider operation.
Operations are conducted under the direction and control of law enforcement officers of the "host" country, assisted by the specially trained and cross-designated law enforcement officers of the "visiting" country. For example, while in Canada, operations are subject to Canadian laws, policies and procedures and all operations are undertaken under the direction and control of Canadian law enforcement officers. The opposite is true while in the U.S
Under what circumstances do law enforcement officers from the 'visiting' country have designated status in the 'host' country? During specific Shiprider operations, or all the time?
Shiprider can only take place in undisputed, shared waterways along the Canada-US border (internal waters or the sea) and designated officers only maintain such status while participating in a Shiprider operation.
Are the Shiprider officers specially trained?
Yes. Officers from Canadian and U.S. law enforcement agencies are required to undergo joint training in order to participate in the Canada-U.S. Shiprider operations. This mandatory training includes completion of in-class seminars, case-study scenarios, as well as acquiring an understanding of the criminal laws, privacy laws, and policies of both Canada and the U.S.
How will complaints involving law enforcement officers from the 'visiting' country be addressed?
Designated officers from the U.S. will be subject to the same public complaints mechanisms (Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP) as Members of the RCMP.
In addition, the Commissioner of the RCMP, or his delegate, has the ability to revoke the appointment of a designated officer. The 2009 Canada-U.S. Framework Agreement on Integrated Cross-Border Maritime Law Enforcement Operations (Shiprider) stipulates that any necessary disciplinary action will be taken by the designated officer's agency.
All designated officers are subject to Canadian laws while operating in Canada and would be subject to criminal prosecution for any criminal wrongdoings.
Will the USCG or RCMP vessels be equipped with mounted guns?
Although the USCG does arm many of the vessels in its fleet with mounted guns, none of the vessels used during Canada-U.S. Shiprider operations will be equipped with mounted guns.
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