As the Port of Galveston grows into one of America’s busiest cruise hubs, the crucial role of the Galveston Port Police in ensuring passengers’ safety takes center stage.
Amidst a myriad of activities, the police force navigates the complexity of cruise port security under the leadership of Chief Kenneth Brown, a seasoned professional with over 25 years of experience.
Navigating the Complexities of Cruise Port Security
The thousands of guests and crew members and the myriad activities that cruise ships bring to Galveston create a whole new dynamic for the police force tasked to keep the port and visitors safe.
In Galveston, the police force is under the leadership of Chief Kenneth Brown, a seasoned law enforcement professional with more than 25 years of experience; the department consists of 34 sworn officers, six telecommunicators, and two civilian office staff.
The port police must juggle traditional law enforcement duties with the unique needs of a bustling cruise hub, from ensuring the smooth operation of ships to safeguarding the welfare of guests on the move.
The year 2023 marks an impressive surge in Galveston‘s cruise activity. New terminals, increased sailings, and more ships homeporting in Galveston than ever have led to unprecedented growth in the port’s cruise industry.
February 2023 alone saw the port host 71 sailings, a 22% increase compared to the same month in the previous year. Moreover, passenger movements, both embarkations and debarkations, rose by 123%.
Cruise Guest Safety
As the Port of Galveston grows and welcomes more ships and guests, the role of the Port of Galveston Police Department becomes ever more essential.
No one wants guests to begin their vacation with a bad experience in the port. The department’s round-the-clock vigilance ensures guests enjoy a safe and seamless experience at the Port of Galveston.
Rodger Rees, Galveston Wharves Port Director & CEO, said: “Officers play an important role in safety and security for the more than 1 million cruise passengers who embark each year from North America’s fourth busiest cruise port. Beyond terminal security services contracted by the cruise lines, port police enforce the law, address passenger concerns, and facilitate traffic flow.”
“Thanks to our port police, our port-operated cruise parking facilities are the safest on the island. They patrol the lots and monitor security cameras around the clock,” Rees added.
Port Police also actively engage with ship captains to review regulations and security directives, survey port facilities for potential safety hazards, and continuously monitor for security and environmental risks breaches.
Port officers are trained specially for port-related situations, working in tandem with local, state, and federal agencies like the U.S. Coast Guard, FBI, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and more. Their collaboration ensures a comprehensive approach to public safety, a necessity in a bustling port like Galveston.
Busiest Year in History
The port police will be busier than ever, with 2023 the busiest year on record for the Port of Galveston. The port has a record lineup of cruise ships calling the port home this year.
Carnival Breeze, Carnival Dream, Carnival Vista, Voyager Of The Seas, Allure Of The Seas, Harmony Of The Seas, Regal Princess, Norwegian Prima, and Disney Magic are all sailing from Galveston in 2023. 2023 will also be the first full year of operations for Royal Caribbean International’s new cruise terminal at the port.
Furthermore, the port is set to welcome the groundbreaking 182,200 gross tons LNG-powered Carnival Jubilee in December, which will sail 7-day western Caribbean cruises from the port.
The numbers underpinning this exceptional growth are impressive. The port, already ranked as the fourth busiest in North America, is slated to host an estimated total of 355 sailings in 2023. This represents a phenomenal increase and sets a new record in the port’s 22-year history as a cruise homeport.