Neighborhood watch program keeps an eye out for suspect activity on the water.
SAN DIEGO ― The iWatch My Bay program, which launched three years ago in San Diego, continues to function as a neighborhood watch type program on the water.
Marina operators and other maritime interests on San Diego Bay rely on the program to maintain an open line of communication with local law enforcement officials. At the same time, law enforcement officials encourage those on the waterfront to report suspicious activity.
“The scope of the I Watch is specific, Terrorism, Espionage and Human Trafficking,” Gary Adler, a Reserve Senior Volunteer Patrol (RSVP) with the San Diego Harbor Police, wrote in an email to The Log.
Adler confirmed meetings continue to be held quarterly, with an annual meeting this year; 30 marina managers on average attend the meetings.
All marine managers, yacht club representatives and port tenants are invited to attend – as has been the case since the program’s inception. Businesses such as waterfront hotels, fuel docks, TowBoatUS San Diego and San Diego Mooring Company are also invited to attend meetings.
“If there is a particular boater group that is interested, then they can be invited,” Adler said. “In other words, it’s not restricted.”
Harbor Patrol informs waterfront managers at these meetings about recent criminal occurrences on the harbor and encourages anyone to report any suspicious activity, such as an overloaded vessel or a person paying with an unusual amount of cash.
“It’s a place that we can communicate with other [marine] operators regularly as well as the Harbor Police. I think it’s a good thing,” Jim Behun, marine manager for Sunroad Resort on Harbor Island, told The Log.
Boaters’ bikes were being stolen from various marina parking lots, Behun mentioned.
“The Harbor Police has done a great [job] where they put decoy bikes with cameras and GPSs. Then they follow a bike when somebody steals it. They have caught some people,” Behun said. “That’s one area of success that I know for sure has worked.”
Brochures are given to marina managers, and iWatch My Bay signs are posted around marinas. Adler says the brochures should be included in welcome packets to anyone renting a slip.
Adler also mentioned The Log’s previous articles about iWatch My Bay have helped promote the program. (The Log reported on the launch of the program in July 2014, the first meeting in September 2014 and the second meeting in February 2015.)
Behun said having a personal relationship with Harbor Patrol helps when there is a problem.
“If we see somebody doing something suspicious in the water, we let [Harbor Patrol] know,” Behun stated. “It does not happen often, but the fact that they want us to call with stuff like that is valuable.”
Behun informs his tenants on the water about anything important to look out for through his monthly newsletter or an email blast.
Behun, however, says there is rarely anything to report.
“The fact that we don’t have a lot of crime and we don’t hear about bad things happening, I think that plays into the fact that we have a good open line of communication,” Behun said. “If you don’t hear anything, it usually means something is working pretty well.”