(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) – The U.S. Coast Guard in Buffalo is looking for suspects who allegedly aimed a high-powered laser at two Coast Guard boats this summer during search and rescue operations.
One of the incidents reportedly took place in the residential neighborhood of Moon Beach, New York. The latest incident reportedly took place in the Lakeside Park area of Oswego, New York from an unidentified vehicle. The Coast Guard reports the incidents took place on June 11 and July 21.
The laser reportedly illuminated the small Coast Guard boats repeatedly, striking the crew in the eyes, as the crew conducted search and rescue operations.
While no injuries were reported during these incidents, the Coast Guard reports that “these types of actions are illegal and can have serious effects on crew safety and the missions the U.S. Coast Guard conducts. daily”.
Laser pointers can endanger small boat crews and crews due to glare, afterimage, flash blindness, or temporary loss of night vision.
“Any time a U.S. Coast Guard small boat is observed on the water, it’s on a mission, training, or in transit,” said U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Mark Kuperman, Buffalo Sector Commander. in a press release. “As with all emergency responders, the work they do is in the best interest of the public. When struck by a laser, they cannot perform their job and may in fact have suffered eye injuries.
Aiming a laser pointer at an airplane is a criminal crime; Title 18 US Code, Section 39A states that “any person who knowingly aims the beam of a laser pointer at any aircraft within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States, or within the flight path of such aircraft, shall be fined under this title or to a maximum prison term of 5 years, or both.”
A new law was passed in 2021 under the Elijah E. Cummings Coast Guard Authorization Act (CGAA) of 2020. It states that “aiming a LASER pointer at vessels is a violation under Title 46 U.S. Code, Section 70014making it illegal to “cause the beam of a LASER pointer to strike a vessel operating in the navigable waters of the United States”.
“Just as a citizen would not intentionally endanger a speeding ambulance or fire truck to provide emergency care, Coast Guard boat crews respond to life-threatening situations on the water” , Kuperman said.
Coast Guard Investigative Service Special Agents work with local law enforcement to investigate incidents. Anyone with information about the case is encouraged to contact U.S. Coast Guard Sector Buffalo at 716-843-9391 or can report anonymously via CGIS Tips – p3tips.com/878.