Department of Planning and Natural Resources Commissioner Alicia Barnes last week announced that an internal investigation has been launched into allegations of intimidation and improper enforcement actions by DPNR Enforcement Officers.
“On Wednesday and Thursday of this week, my office received complaints from several St. John residents about DPNR officers brandishing weapons and cutting mooring lines in the Coral Bay area,” said Commissioner Barnes.
DPNR Division of Environmental Enforcement Director Roberto Tapia confirmed that the division was involved in a week-long initiative in Coral Bay to rid the area of illegal moorings and to enforce regulations on the many unregistered vessels in that area.
This effort was initiated by written correspondence and verbal requests from the 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, according to Tapia.
Barnes acknowledged that while the scheduling of the initiative may have been untimely, it was in no way connected to the proposed increase of mooring fees.
“I consider these allegations of intimidation to be serious, and have solicited the assistance of the Attorney General’s office to look into these claims,” said Barnes.