Make us your home page

Tampa port security procedures confusing, inefficient, report concludes

Regulation of security at Florida ports by the state and U.S. Coast Guard has caused confusion, duplicated efforts and wasted money, a controversial report for the state drug control office concludes.

The Legislature should give the Coast Guard total responsibility for setting security rules and conducting inspections, wrote TranSystems Corp., a Fort Lauderdale consultant. Florida is the only state with a law that regulates seaport security.

"As a consequence of 9/11 … the federal government has created regulations that have effectively and capably rendered much of (Florida law) obsolete," the report states.

The company jumped into the middle of a long-running dispute over the need for state regulation of port security. The Office of Drug Control and Florida Department of Law Enforcement say the state law adds layers of protection that aren't the Coast Guard's concern.

Maritime businesses and officials at Florida's 12 operating deepwater ports say dual regulation adds unnecessary costs and hassles. Port workers, for example, pay for an FBI criminal background check to get a federal credential and a state records check for a local port ID card.

Florida enacted its port security law in 2001, before the terrorist attacks but in the wake of reports that ports had become conduits for crimes like drug smuggling and money laundering. That gave Florida a jump on other states in addressing concerns that ports were vulnerable to terrorism.

The federal Maritime Security Act enacted in 2002 called for nationwide security standards for ports, giving the Coast Guard authority to set rules and inspect for compliance.

Bruce Grant, director of the state drug office, balked when he saw the study in February. The consultant made "a few short phone calls" to his office and FDLE officials, he said.

"Because TranSystems did not include this input, they made numerous false assertions," Grant wrote in a cover letter to Gov. Charlie Crist that accompanied the report. "This study reflects a strong bias towards the commercial operators' perspective."

He asked Crist not to pay the consultant's $200,000 bill. But Grant said the governor's legal staff said he couldn't do that.

Critics of state regulation such as Mike Rubin, vice president of the Florida Ports Council, said Grant just didn't like how the study came out.

"It's what we've been saying for a while," he said. "If this regulation is so important, why do we remain the only state that has it?"

Steve Huettel can be reached at or (813) 226-3384.

Tampa port security procedures confusing, inefficient, report concludes 04/20/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 20, 2010 11:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rick Scott appoints 'my friend,' Jimmy Patronis, as Florida CFO

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Monday appointed a long-time friend and political supporter, Jimmy Patronis, to replace Jeff Atwater as Florida's next chief financial officer, making him one of three members of the Cabinet that sets state policy on a wide range of issues. He'll take over Friday.

    Rick Scott appoints Jimmy Patronis (background) as CFO. [STEVE BOUSQUET | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. Local gas prices plummet as Fourth of July holiday travel approaches


    TAMPA — Local gas prices are enjoying an unseasonal dip around the $2 mark just in time for the hectic Fourth of July holiday travel weekend.

    The price of regular unleaded gasoline has dropped to $1.99 at a Rally station on Pasadena Ave. South and Gulfport Boulevard South, South Pasadena.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  3. Air bag recalls, lawsuits lead Takata to file for bankruptcy


    Shattered by recall costs and lawsuits, Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. filed Monday for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., saying it was the only way it could keep on supplying replacements for faulty air bag inflators linked to the deaths of at least 16 people.

    Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. CEO Shigehisa Takada bows during a press conference in Tokyo on Monday. Takata has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of defective air bag inflators.
[(AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi]
  4. Airbag maker Takata bankruptcy filing expected in Japan, U.S.


    DETROIT — Japanese airbag maker Takata Corp. has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of faulty air bag inflators.

  5. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park


    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]