The Oceanside Police Department’s Harbor Unit handles the emergency response element for Maritime Law Enforcement, Search and Rescue, Marine Firefighting, Emergency Towing and Salvage, Emergency Medical Aid and Scuba-diving. Harbor officers are deployed on a 24-hour basis and respond to both emergency and non-emergency calls for service. Additionally, Harbor officers are trained to respond with the Lifeguards on the City’s Swift Water Rescue Team. Currently, the Harbor Unit consists of 8 full time Officers, 1 Reserve Officer, and 1 Sergeant. The Harbor Unit is supervised by a Lieutenant within the Field Operations Division of the Oceanside Police Department. The Harbor Unit is primarily responsible for the Oceanside Harbor, and the 3.5 miles of Oceanside coastline extending 3 miles offshore. The Harbor Unit also responds to mutual aid requests within the North San Diego County coastline.
Non-emergency services include vessel safety inspections, general assistance to boaters, dock inspections and after-hours assistance to the public on harbor-related matters. The Harbor Police utilize four-wheel-drive vehicles, boats and foot patrol to support the Field Operations Division.
The Harbor Unit is a multi-functional public safety team that aims to form a partnership with their community to proactively educate the public, create a safe recreational environment and provide emergency services for Oceanside’s Harbor and Beaches.
The Oceanside Harbor Patrol was established in 1963 along with the opening of the Oceanside Harbor. Patrolmen came from various backgrounds such as lifeguarding, US Navy, US Coast Guard, and an assortment of commercial maritime occupations. Oceanside Harbor was the home port of the USCG Pt. Hobart from 1969 to 1999. The Pt. Hobart’s primary purpose was to provide additional security for US President Nixon when he visited the ‘Western White House’ near San Mateo Point. The Pt. Hobart also provided search and rescue services within the region, when not providing security for the President. In 1993, the Oceanside Harbor District was annexed by the City of Oceanside and all District employees became City employees, including the Oceanside Harbor Police. The Oceanside Harbor Police continued to operate as a separate police department from the Oceanside Police Department, maintain their mission of providing public safety to the boaters in and around the Oceanside Harbor. In 1999, when the Pt. Hobart was decommissioned, the Oceanside Harbor Police once again became the only rescue vessels between Dana Point Harbor and Mission Bay. The City of Oceanside reorganized the Department of Harbor and Beaches in 2009 and the Harbor Police Department was absorbed by the Oceanside Police Department. The Oceanside Police Department created a Harbor Unit which was staffed by the same Officers and Sergeant, as the former Oceanside Harbor Police Department. The Oceanside Police Harbor Unit remains the primary response vessel for over 37 miles of coastline, assisting in mutual aid calls for service from San Mateo Point to Del Mar.
The Officers assigned to the Harbor Unit of the Oceanside Police Department undergo extensive training prior to assignment. The Officers are subject to the same standards as other Police Patrol Officers and attend a 25 week P.O.S.T. certified Police Academy. Following the Academy, the Officers participate in a minimum 24 week Field Training program to learn patrol functions. When an Officer is assigned to work the Harbor Unit, they must complete an additional 200 hours of P.O.S.T. certified rescue boat operations coursework facilitated by the CA Department of Boating and Waterways, 127 hours of Emergency Medical Technician certification, over 100 hours of SCUBA training to obtain a PADI Rescue Diver certification, an additional 6 week in-house rescue boat operations Field Training program, and a variety of other miscellaneous harbor related coursework. The Harbor Unit Officers receive well over 2,500 hours in training before they are qualified as Rescue Boat Operators for the Oceanside Police Department with over 500 of those hours being directly related to water rescue training.
The Harbor Unit currently operates a fleet of 3 Crystaliner rescue boats. The vessels were upgraded with current electronics such as GPS, Radar, FLIR, and other electronics to support their search and rescue mission in 2010. Additionally, the vessels are outfitted with equipment for Marine Firefighting, EMT, Dewatering, Rescue/Assistance Towing, and SCUBA. The Harbor Unit also operates 3 sport utility vehicles for emergencies on the beach. The vehicles are outfitted with tow winches, SCUBA, and EMT equipment in addition to the standard police gear.