The Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit is the primary water-borne law enforcement agency in Martin County. The unit is comprised of a Lieutenant and four Deputies. They are Lieutenant Donald Plant, Deputies John Howell, Justin Lundstedt, Michael Joseph and Jason Hickman.
With close to 18,000 registered boats in Martin County, the Marine Unit handles a growing number calls for service. These include boating accidents, inspections, search and rescue, criminal investigations, recreational boating issues, derelict vessel removal, and interdiction operations. All members of the Marine Unit are cross designated as Blue Lightning Strike Force Officers with the Department of Homeland Security. The Marine Unit works closely with a number of agencies including U.S. Customs, D.E.A, Homeland Security and Coast Guard. With the growing concern over water quality and recreation, the Marine Unit has also worked with the Health Department and Department of Environmental Protection on a variety of issues.
The Marine Unit operates seven days a week, 365 days a year and covers multiple bodies of water. These include the Atlantic Ocean, Indian River, Intracoastal Waterway, St. Lucie River, Okeechobee Canal and Lake Okeechobee. Deputies also spend many hours conducting drug and illegal immigrant interdiction patrols. With Martin County’s close proximity to the Bahamas, and miles of uninhabited beaches, patrolling our coastline is a daunting task. The Stonegarden Grant, awarded by United States Customs and Border Patrol and FEMA. has provided the Marine Unit with additional resources to increase proficiency. One of these was the purchase of three FLIR (forward looking infra-red) cameras that were installed on selected patrol boats. This technology helps Deputies detect thermal heat from vessels or persons that may be in the water awaiting help during nighttime hours.
Lieutenant Donald Plant, Supervisor, Marine Unit