Coral Bay Marine owner Alan Mohler said he is disappointed that the attorney general’s office hasn’t issued any findings concerning a late July enforcement action by Planning and Natural Resources officers on Coral Bay boaters. While Planning Commissioner Alicia Barnes initiated the investigation, it was turned over to the AG’s office.
“It makes it look worse, but they probably didn’t do anything,” Mohler said of the lack of a response.
Planning spokesman Jamal Nielsen said Wednesday that Planning hadn’t gotten any answers from the attorney general’s office either.
Barnes announced the internal investigation July 27 after boaters said the officers cut mooring lines, put violation stickers on boats they believed weren’t registered, demanded pedestrians show identification, and waved guns around in their sweep through Coral Bay.
Nielsen had earlier referred questions about the investigation to the attorney general’s office. James McCall, special investigations director at the AG’s office, said last week that Attorney General Vincent Frazer would be the one to answer those questions.
Frazer did not respond to messages left last week and Monday.
Nielsen said that Planning was against any heavy-handed actions by officers as they carried out their duties.
“We pray the investigation shines a light on the truth,” he said.
One security camera video shot July 25 captured images of three officers conversing in the parking area near the Coral Bay dinghy dock. The video was posted on YouTube. While Roberto Tapia, who heads Enforcement, has claimed the rifle was on a strap over the officer’s shoulder, the video clearly shows that wasn’t the case.
Tapia said in the press release issued when the internal investigation was announced that his officers were involved in a week-long initiative in Coral Bay to rid the area of illegal moorings and to enforce the law on “many” unregistered vessels in that area.
Tapia said this effort was initiated by written correspondence and verbal requests fromthe many St. John residents who have registered vessels and legal moorings and by concerned Coral Bay residents who want to see increased enforcement in the bay.
Boaters said they only wanted help in getting rid of sunken vessels.