A state senator from California has proposed legislation requiring cruise ships sailing from Golden State ports to have a peace officer onboard.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) believes that the number of cases involving missing cruise passengers, sexual assaults and other criminal necessitates that action be taken.
Quoting Simitian, “We’ve got air marshals on planes with a couple hundred passengers, but we’ve got no one on board the cruise ships with 10 times the number of passengers.”
The peace officer’s salary would be funded by a one dollar per passenger, per day tax and he or she would also server as a licensed marine engineer to make sure that the cruise ship complies with environmental regulations, a cause Simitian has championed.
Cruise ships do hire their own security officers, but lawmakers are concerned that this isn’t enough. Some have suggested that security staff are looking out for the interests of the cruise line instead of the safety requirements of cruise passengers.
California’s portion of the $35.7 billion annual cruise industry is $1.9 billion. Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Long Beach and the top embarkation points in the state, representing 14% of all U.S. traffic.
Simitian’s bill comes on the heels of an incident involving a Sacramento resident who claimed she was raped while taking a cruise. She contends that the cruise line insisted that she collect her own evidence. The alleged attacker has never been charged in this case.