Sheriff's Patrols Beef up Alameda County's Port Security

New vessel donated from USCG helps patrol San Francisco Bay

In launching the boat patrol, Plummer's office is acting under state law that gives county sheriffs authority to protect the safety of marine vessels located in waters off their coasts. The state's harbors and navigations code also allows local law enforcement officers such as sheriff's deputies to stop and board suspect vessels navigating there.

Adding the second boat to Alameda County's fleet helps make the marine unit a seven-day-a-week operation. Even when the smaller gunboat is in dry-dock for repairs, Lambert and the unit's five other members are a quick ride away from any part of the Bay aboard the Susan M.

When the marine unit was launched, Plummer named its first vessel the August Vollmer, after a Berkeley police chief of the early 20th century who originated the motto "We kill them with kindness."

For his department's second boat, Plummer, 75, chose County Administrator Susan Muranishi, because "in my almost 54 years in this business Susan is by far the most outstanding, honest, hard-working civil servant I've ever known."

The decision is tinged with irony since it is Muranishi who probably nags Plummer more than anyone else about possible unexpected costs associated with his marine unit. So far, though, Plummer has kept her worries at bay by using only existing personnel to operate the marine patrols.

Muranishi says she is honored and amused by Plummer's compliment.

After all, she is many things -- urbane, civic-minded, a workaholic -- but not someone who longs for the open sea.

"It isn't exactly the legacy I expected to leave in Alameda County," she said.

(Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, CA) (KRT) -- 12/28/05)