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Old 16-07-2013, 14:12   #16
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Re: Ohio Law Restricts Boardings

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Excuse me, but you DID come on as Mr. Authority Figure, and you DID brag about your "myriad boardings".

As far as I am aware, boating has not yet been classified as a crime. And if you manage to get a job as a state officer and you approach me without a warrant, I will politely tell you to go away. That is the law, and you will have to respect it. If you do not respect the law, then I will take up the issue with your employer, and make your bad manners as expensive for them as I possibly can.

See Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968), though we will be discussing a LOT of state law before we get to that point.
What part of my objective factual explanation of law made you get so defensive?

I can assure you that spending repeated and prolonged periods aboard decrepit foreign flagged vessels isn't bragging but rather a disgusting job at low pay when you least enjoy it. That you don't understand the existing boarding authorities is clear.

The authority for boarding boats is fundamentally different than searches of cars, homes, etc. I'd be happy to cite specific references for you to read but I don't teach elementary school.
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Old 16-07-2013, 14:33   #17
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Re: Ohio Law Restricts Boardings

Be nice!...or perish.
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Old 16-07-2013, 14:58   #18
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Re: Ohio Law Restricts Boardings

Ok, I'm not very political but this stuff gets me right in the Stars and Stripes.

"How would you feel if the local police could at whim enter your home and look through all your closets just in case you're harboring a terrorist"

They already do that; just ask the folks in the Cambridge neighborhood when the gendarmerie were searching for the Boston Marathon Bombers ... they ended up riddling and flash-banging a citizen's boat to capture an unarmed 'terrorist'. Nice ... whatever happened to 'hands-up podner or RinTinTin here's gonna chew your nuts off' ?

That's because in addition to every town having it's own marine patrol boats, DHS has bought them tanks and MRAPs plus their very own SWAT teams ... if you got 'em you gotta use 'em, right?

Here in Florida, for example, towns like Stuart and Fort Pierce have marine patrols cruising the same waters with the Florida Hwy Patrol, sharing jurisdiction with the County Sheriff's boats and the Florida FWC (that's Fish & Wildlife Commission or game wardens) boats, add in some US Customs and Border Patrol boats and the occasional USCG floaty and you could have some serious fireworks if a gun battle ever erupts.

Don't want to be near that one.

Thanks Congress ... for the Patriot Act.
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Old 16-07-2013, 15:15   #19
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Re: Ohio Law Restricts Boardings

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That's why the People of the states have laws to protect themselves from warrantless searches.

If you don't have probable cause, Mr. Authority Figure, you don't get aboard. That's the law.
In this case S/V Illusion is correct. Under US law the USCG historically had the right to board any US flagged vessel. That right to board is still valid under current US law and has been extended to include any US vessel anywhere in international waters and also to include Homeland Security.

There may be grounds to challenge the constitutionality of the law. I would be quite happy if someone with more money and time than I have to bring the case to court. Care to volunteer?
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Old 16-07-2013, 15:39   #20
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Re: Ohio Law Restricts Boardings

The USCG does have the constitutional authority to board and search without any reason whatsoever. This has been upheld by the Supreme Court. Local law enforcement does not, not without a search warrant. The Ohio law just reinforces the laws that already exist and seems to get local law enforcement more off the backs of boaters.
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Old 16-07-2013, 15:56   #21
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Re: Ohio Law Restricts Boardings

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The USCG does have the constitutional authority to board and search without any reason whatsoever. This has been upheld by the Supreme Court. Local law enforcement does not, not without a search warrant. The Ohio law just reinforces the laws that already exist and seems to get local law enforcement more off the backs of boaters.
Not exactly the way it really works...while the USCG has the authority to board and make an examination for boating safety regulations...a "true search" of the vessel is not automatically granted...either by USCG procedure or by the courts.

Inspection of man sized spaces is authorized to ensure the vessel is safe....lockers and drawers and well as personal items, luggage, etc...etc are not open for inspection. A warrant would still have to be obtained with probable cause.
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Old 16-07-2013, 16:02   #22
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Re: Ohio Law Restricts Boardings

I think the word that says it best is "jurisdiction". Contrary to some beliefs, there is no such thing as a shared jurisdiction. The state has a set of laws and responsibilities, and the feds have another. They both may exist in the same location and work toward the same ends, but they do not share the same constitutions, nor the same system of laws, nor the same authority.

This thread started with a state law, recognizing one of the basic freedoms of state citizens -- the right to be left alone. It was then joined by someone who had experience in the federal sphere. A federal officer generally doesn't worry about individual rights because he executes policy internationally, and/or contractually, and has been given some amazingly powerful weapons to accomplish his job.

US Customs, Homeland Security, and the Coast Guard operate in that international/contractual jurisdiction. But that jurisdiction is not Ohio, and just because they might be "the law" up and down the coast and around the world does not mean that they can enter a state and do so there. Nor does it mean state officers can somehow assume that sort of authority just because the Coasties can do it.

The state governments are militarized enough, and I think this Ohio law is a good thing. But it merely re-states existing law a little more directly and pointedly. I hope the citizens take the point just as well as the state officers do. It's the only thing that will keep us from fascism.

In the states, in the United States, the citizen is still the sovereign and the government is still the servant -- except where the servant is allowed to be his own law. Notice that I use the word "allowed", for I am not one for meekly letting that happen here.
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Old 16-07-2013, 16:05   #23
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Re: Ohio Law Restricts Boardings

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Not exactly the way it really works...while the USCG has the authority to board and make an examination for boating safety regulations...a "true search" of the vessel is not automatically granted...either by USCG procedure or by the courts.

Inspection of man sized spaces is authorized to ensure the vessel is safe....lockers and drawers and well as personal items, luggage, etc...etc are not open for inspection. A warrant would still have to be obtained with probable cause.
I have to respectfully disagree. They board and search commercial vessels all the time and can look anywhere they please. No search warrant is necessary.
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Old 16-07-2013, 16:18   #24
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Re: Ohio Law Restricts Boardings

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Actually, probable cause is not a prerequisite to searches aboard vessels. If you want to get petulant about it, focus your sarcasm at the people YOU elected who wrote the law and not the people simply doing their job enforcing them.

I'm not Mr Authority. Maybe you could try to NOT be Mr. Uninformed.
It is pretty clear that The Customs and Border Patrol and USCG do not require a warrant or probable cause to board your vessel. Florida law states that LEO's may board with probable cause or consent to inspect permanently installed Marine Sanitation Devices or required safety equipment that cannot be produced at the rail. It says nothing about any other legal reason for boarding. That is not saying they can't stop you and ask to see your required safety equipment and/or Required safety Equipment and or documentation. If you can produce all such items at the rail, they would appear to have no right to board under state law. An MSD is required on any vessel 26 feet or above, but it does not have to be permanently installed. I would suggest that they cannot know you have a permanently installed MSD or piece of safety equipment unless they ask you and you cannot produce your portable unit at the rail. Simply being longer than 26 feet would not seem to me to be probable cause. I would think that if you got a ticket from an officer who boarded without permission before determining that you had a permanently installed piece of required equipment you could argue that it was an illegal search. Also inspecting a piece of required equipment does not allow them to look in every nook and cranny of your boat, nor are they required to close their eyes to anything illegal left in plain sight while the are performing a legal inspection. The one gotcha in all this is that the patriot act allowed the USCG to deputize local LEOs to perfrm their duties. If the local LEO has been so deputized then he has a right to search your boat just like a regular Coast Guardsman. I have not been boarded yet by a local LEO, though I've been stopped a couple of times and in those cases they were happy to see my papers and safety equipment at the rail. I once had a GA state LEO say he wanted to board my boat 5 miles off the coast. I pointed out that he was 2 miles outside of his juridiction and that I was not planning on entering GA waters and I did not want to stop for an inspection. He went away and said have a nice day. If he had been USCG deputized I imagine he would have told me so and demanded to board. If a local Florida LEO tells me he wants to board and perform an inspection I'm going to ask to see his USCG credentials. If he can't produce them I'll ask him nicely to get off my boat. We'll see how it goes.
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Old 16-07-2013, 16:23   #25
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Re: Ohio Law Restricts Boardings

When you get a CG safety inspection decal either from the CG or aux and display it that should be enough to tell the locals that you have been boarded, inspected and not in need of another safety inspection. Whenever I have been approached by the CG they have always asked the date of my last boarding and they honor the up to date decal.
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Old 16-07-2013, 16:30   #26
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Re: Ohio Law Restricts Boardings

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Land based law enforcement has managed to differentiate and there are very well defined rules on what is probable cause to search a home or vehicle. Don't see why the same basic protocols cannot be applied to maritime stops.

For example, see a boat wandering about the channel, not keeping a straight course, inappropriate speed, violating no wake zones, etc could be some of the reasons for a stop to see if the operator is impaired. I'm sure a marine version of a field sobriety test could be administered.

If looking for more serious violations then stop the vessel and do some questioning and observation of the person's responses for nervous behavior or visible evidence of some crime like operating a stolen vessel, smuggling, etc.

I know all the arguments, legal justifications for the marine policies and have read the discussions ad infinitum. My opinion, when I'm cruising my boat is my home. Just because of legal precedence based on an archaic law it is legal to enter and search my home without probable cause or warrant.

How would you feel if the local police could at whim enter your home and look through all your closets just in case you're harboring a terrorist and inspect your bathroom to confirm you're not flushing your toilet into the creek out back. Not a lawyer but I believe the same protections apply to a motor home being used as a residence. Would you support being pulled over at random in your car and having your car searched without cause or warrant but again on the whim of the LEO?
Yep.
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Old 16-07-2013, 17:04   #27
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Re: Ohio Law Restricts Boardings

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I have to respectfully disagree. They board and search commercial vessels all the time and can look anywhere they please. No search warrant is necessary.


I doubt they search as you state.

Not sure how many years you spent as a senior officer in the USCG...but mine were pretty much all operational in charge of thousands of boardings.

Oh and I just threw away a bunch of old paperwork including a really nice thank you letter for my presentation to senior officers on Maritime Law Enforcement.

Sure, there are specific boardings and inspections all the time for specific reasons...but a random stop of a recreational vessel is a safety inspection...not a "search" under the law.
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Old 16-07-2013, 17:05   #28
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Re: Ohio Law Restricts Boardings

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US Customs, Homeland Security, and the Coast Guard operate in that international/contractual jurisdiction. But that jurisdiction is not Ohio, and just because they might be "the law" up and down the coast and around the world does not mean that they can enter a state and do so there. Nor does it mean state officers can somehow assume that sort of authority just because the Coasties can do it.
I believe the USCG has jurisdiction over all navigable water in the US, so yes, they can board your boat at any time on any water in the US, including water within the state of Ohio.

This thread applies to Ohio state and municipalities law enforcement departments, not federal agencies.
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Old 16-07-2013, 17:54   #29
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Re: Ohio Law Restricts Boardings

Not that this really impacts me (as the LEOs around us tend to stay away from the sailboats), I think its a great law- the local police boat used to 'hide' behind the break wall and pull over one after another of the fishing/power boats the second they cleared it. This usually happened in the evening, so I'm sure their main purpose was checking for DUIs, but whatever. I've even watched them cruise up and down the fingers of the docks, looking at the boats/people...WTF?
Much like CA and FL, we have in our harbor- USCG, Local police, ODNR, ODW, Border Patrol, and this weird black boat that shows up once in a while.... seems like a little overkill.
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Old 16-07-2013, 20:30   #30
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Re: Ohio Law Restricts Boardings

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Not that this really impacts me (as the LEOs around us tend to stay away from the sailboats), I think its a great law- the local police boat used to 'hide' behind the break wall and pull over one after another of the fishing/power boats the second they cleared it. This usually happened in the evening, so I'm sure their main purpose was checking for DUIs, but whatever. I've even watched them cruise up and down the fingers of the docks, looking at the boats/people...WTF?
Much like CA and FL, we have in our harbor- USCG, Local police, ODNR, ODW, Border Patrol, and this weird black boat that shows up once in a while.... seems like a little overkill.
CG has always been professional and coureous. They honor the AUX inspection stickers - so get one. In most cases, they go after the obvious pontoon boat with 25 people aboard or the skipper with a beer in hand. If your boat is eqipped with an active class B AIS they already know everything about you. Even HS leaves us alone with not much more than a greeting and handwave. As per rules of the road, when I see HS or CG as with all large and commercial vessels I assume a passing situation and hail them on VHS to agree on a passing course.

The other water cops are random unknowns rating anywhere from good to highly ignorant and dangerous. Its about time the Ohio water-cops of all types were given some restrictions. I raced sail in Cleveland for many years (a long time ago). The city cops tried to force a manditory 'fleet' inspection about 5 minutes after the spinaker start of a Cleveland Race Week race. It was perfect - 30 or so crews told them to move or get run over. They said they would arrest us all. We ALL told them, "go ahead".

Most of these guys receive little training and the laws are made up as they go. It took a VHS call to the CG to convince a county sheriff deputy that documented vessels were not permited to display state registration numbers. The best favor you can do for yourself is to get a voluntary CG AUX inspection and display the sticker.

County sheriff tried to hassle me on my Tornado Cat. I was out on the trapeze flying jib, main, AS kite by myself (a handful of stuff). I was wearing floatation and sporting 6" high numbers and current registration. He told me I needed to stop for an inspection. I politely declined and told him he could see everything he needed to see and get out of my way. I had no way to drop sail and would not put my boad in irons and risk injury, damage or beaching on a lee shore. The arguement went on for quite some time at about 20 knots before he left.

In one local infamous event, the sheriff stopped a boat towing a skier for a lifejacket count. He counted the skier as a person in the boat but that left the boat short a jacket because it was on the skier. While they argued about it, the sheriff dirfted over the tow rope with his monster engines and pulled the ski boat under.

Just don't give the Bozos an excuse to get close. If it places my boat in jeopardy he can follow me till he runs out of fuel.
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