NASBLA Awarded Eight USCG Nonprofit Grants
Among the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators’ (NASBLA) core values is collaboration with a broad community of stakeholders. To assist in moving the association forward, NASBLA works annually to construct nonprofit grant project proposals to meet the needs of its members through research, training, innovation and standards development. As a result of the Fiscal Year 2023 National Nonprofit Organization Recreational Boating Safety Grant Program applications, NASBLA was awarded funding for eight grant projects, detailed below. Each of these projects is intended to support members and stakeholders in a coordinated effort to make our nation’s waterways safer.
Effectively Prosecuting Boating Under the Influence Cases: Enhanced Training for Courtroom Preparation
As part of this grant project, NASBLA will collaborate with the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) to develop a training module which will enhance courtroom preparation for prosecutors of boating under the influence (BUI) cases brought forth by state and local officers. NASBLA, in partnership with the NDAA, intends to bridge the gap between successful and unsuccessful prosecution of BUI by assisting prosecutors in better preparing themselves for courtroom testimony. This training, in preparation for the adjudication of BUI cases, will strengthen officers’ ability to successfully recall and communicate to a judge and jury the facts and informed opinions that resulted in the decision to arrest made by the officer. To accomplish this, NASBLA will work with NDAA to create an integrated prosecution training module (Courtroom Preparation Module) to supplement existing BUI training curriculum to improve outcomes nationwide in the effective prosecution of BUI cases. This project was awarded funding for one year.
National Boating Education Standards
The goal of the National Boating Education Standards project is to develop American National Standards for recreational boating education, providing nationwide uniformity for course developers used to cultivate safer boating behavior on the water across the nation. This project is designed to improve measurable standardization and foster reciprocity among state boating education statutes, regulations, and rules governing the boating public. American National Standards for basic boating knowledge are essential for educating first-time boaters, inexperienced operators, boat rental markets, and appropriate for refreshing experienced boaters. This grant project was awarded funding for one year.
Standardizing State Recreational Boating Safety Statutes & Regulations: NASBLA & the States
NASBLA has been awarded funding to partner with and support the states, the U.S. Coast Guard and the recreational boating safety (RBS) community by fostering standardization and reciprocity among state boating safety statutes, regulations, and rules, and how they are administered and enforced. NASBLA, through the states and a well-established volunteer policy committee structure, will develop or update model state boating safety policies, standards, and best practices as well as guidance for their administration and enforcement. NASBLA will communicate these model policies, programs, and best practices to the states and other partners in the recreational boating community through multiple outlets, both virtual and in-person. Through this grant project, NASBLA will facilitate hands-on coordination of state efforts and the establishment of cooperative environments, to include workshops and conferences where state officials can discuss issues, resolutions, policies, and best practices, and improve their management of the RBS programs. In addition, NASBLA will maintain an up-to-date and comprehensive online guide to state recreational boating safety laws and regulations that can be modified upon notification or discovery of change. This project was awarded funding for three years.
Operation Dry Water Campaign
In 2023, 2024 and 2025, grant funding will be used to deliver the Operation Dry Water (ODW) campaign. Operation Dry Water is a year-round national boating under the influence awareness and enforcement campaign. The mission of ODW is to reduce the number of alcohol- and drug-related incidents and fatalities through increased recreational boater awareness and by fostering a stronger and more visible deterrent to alcohol use on the water. The campaign will take place across all regions, in every U.S. state and territory with participation from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Participation will also include stakeholders that serve the boating safety public within the recreational boating safety community. As a result of the three-day heightened enforcement weekend, hundreds of impaired operators will be removed from the waterways, boating under the influence laws will be reinforced, and thousands of boaters will be educated on an individual level about safe boating practices. This grant project was awarded funding for three years.
Staged Boating Collisions & Video Documentation
As a result of this grant, NASBLA will conduct a Staged Boating Collision project to replace collision vessels essential to the delivery of the Boat Incident Investigation and Reconstruction Level II - Advanced Course (Level II – Advanced). The primary objective of this project is to design a collision scenario likely to occur on the water in a recreational boating setting; capture detailed, thorough video coverage of the collision; secure and transport the crashed vessels to the site of the Advanced Boating Incident Investigation course; and incorporate the new staged collision into the course curriculum through development of teaching aides such as videos, photographs and other types of documentation of the collisions. This project was awarded funding for one year.
Boat Occupant Injury Surveillance Tier 3: Testing and Refinement of Technical Solutions & Surveillance Recommendations
NASBLA will work to build on the ongoing development of Technical Solutions & Surveillance Recommendations through the Injury Surveillance Workgroup (ISW) Process (a.k.a. Boat Occupant Injury Surveillance). This grant project will build on the two prior tiers and commence the final tier of a three-tiered initiative focused on using a public health approach to enhance boat occupant injury surveillance and prevent occupant injuries and enhance safety. Tier 3 of this effort will pilot test the recommendations contained in the report in the field. These pilot tests will focus on three key areas: data access, data linkages, and partnerships. Working with key state partners in Alaska, Florida, Texas, and Michigan, Safe States and NASBLA will then evaluate the pilot tests and refine the recommendations for broad usage in the field. This grant project was awarded funding for one year.
Boating Incident Investigation & GPS Forensics Courses
NASBLA has received funding to improve the reliability of incident reporting and data collection. Specifically, NASBLA received funding for the Boating Incident Investigation and GPS Forensic courses. Officers calls for service to investigate boating incidents have risen and scrutiny of investigations and reports are increasing as well. Criminal and civil litigation has skyrocketed in many places throughout our country and the demand for culpability by boaters, prosecutors, attorneys, and officers has begun to rise to a level that motor vehicle crashes have garnered for many years. This emphasizes the importance and the demand for professionally trained officers’ investigators in the technical role of incident investigation across the nation.
Additionally, GPS technology has continued to advance over the years and has become extremely common on most vessels. Speed, direction of travel, navigation rules violations, track data, location of the incident, evasive maneuvers, operational characteristics, and other items can be hugely valuable to the impartial investigator to determine what was happening prior to, during, and after the incident. Having officers trained to recognize the possibility of this information and how to secure and analyze it is an important, and now prevalent, piece of boating incident investigations and determining contributing factors. This project was awarded funding for three years.
Boating Under the Influence Detection and Enforcement Training
Under funding from this grant, NASBLA will conduct a series of training courses to combat boating under the influence of alcohol (BUI) and drugs (BUI-D). Specifically, NASBLA will be conducting Boating Under the Influence Train-the-Trainer courses designed for marine law enforcement officers who wish to teach other officers the BUI Course. The course focuses on taking an officer who has already developed skills at instructing and preparing them to specifically teach BUI courses, including the seated battery of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) transition.
Grant funding will also be utilized for delivering the Advanced BUI Detection and Enforcement course to trainers who have already received training in BUI enforcement and the SFSTs. This course properly equips maritime law enforcement officers with the knowledge and tools needed to be more effective at BUI enforcement when it comes to impairment from drugs, or a combination of drugs and alcohol. A “green lab” video is utilized so officers can observe individuals under the influence of cannabis for clues and cues of impairment. This grant project was awarded funding for three years.