The U.S. Department of Transportation and the State of New York today announced the expansion of local law enforcements’ jurisdiction to the campus of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) in Kings Point, New York, in an effort to improve safety at the federal service academy.
The concurrent jurisdiction on the USMMA campus will ensure that victims of crimes have access to local resources and assistance from local authorities in response to, investigation of, and prosecution of felony and misdemeanor crimes on campus property, including sexual assault and sexual harassment, the DOT said in an announcement.
Under the new agreement, the Nassau County and Kings Point Police Departments now have authority to investigate misdemeanor sex crimes and most felonies, including sexual assault, occurring on the property owned and controlled by USMMA.
Officers are authorized to make arrests, and the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office has the authority to prosecute the crimes. Not only are the crimes being investigated by NCPD and prosecuted by NCDA, they will also be heard in New York State Court.
“Our focus is on the safety and wellbeing of midshipmen. Concurrent jurisdiction is another critical step in our ongoing effort to strengthen safety and support at USMMA,” said Transportation Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg. “I would like to thank our partners in New York State and Nassau County–working together we can strengthen enforcement by ensuring a uniform response to criminal activity across the entirety of USMMA’s campus, creating a safer community for midshipmen.”
This effort comes after extensive coordination among the State of New York, the Kings Point Police Department (KPPD), the Nassau County Police Department (NCPD), the New York State Office of the Attorney General (OAG), the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office (NCDA), the Department of Transportation, the Maritime Administration, and USMMA.
The agreement on concurrent jurisdiction comes amid the backdrop of reports of sexual assaults against USMMA midshipmen during Sea Year training on U.S.-flag merchant ships. Also, in 2020, the DOJ agreed to $1.4 million settlement with a former member of the USMMA men’s soccer team who alleged he was sexually assaulted and hazed at the academy in 2016, marking the first time a sexual assault victim had ever recovered damages at any of the federal service academies.
“We initiated EMBARC almost a year ago, as a program to help improve safety at sea for all midshipmen and indeed, for all mariners,” said Maritime Administrator Ann Phillips. “Now, we are proud to partner with the State of New York on this change to increase support for a culture of respect and accountability at USMMA. Every midshipman must have a safe environment in which to learn – both during Sea Year and on campus.”
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