RALEIGH -With safety being the top priority at the N.C. Department of Transportation, it's not surprising that the top security official for the Ferry Division was recognized today for his work by the Transportation Security Administration's Eastern North Carolina office.
Robert "Bobby" Hill, the division's Homeland Security officer/coordinator, received TSA's 2011 Field Honorary Partnership Award on Dec. 6 in a ceremony at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport Authority headquarters. The award is part of the annual TSA National Field Awards program and recognizes individuals and agencies outside TSA who are most valuable to the success of the TSA mission.
"Mr. Hill is a very aggressive and well-respected member of the law enforcement and security communities in North Carolina, and constantly seeks methods to improve interoperability of the agencies that can impact the security of ferry operations," said John Greeson, the TSA Assistant Federal Security Director - Law Enforcement for Eastern North Carolina who nominated Hill for the award. "His interactions with TSA, and particularly his openness to our individual employees, make him one of our most valuable and welcome partners."
Hill worked with TSA to implement the Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) Program for the ferry system. VIPR teams are comprised of federal air marshals, surface transportation security inspectors, transportation security officers, behavior detection officers and explosives detection canine teams. They work with local security and law enforcement officials to supplement existing security resources, provide deterrent presence and detection capabilities, and introduce an element of unpredictability to disrupt potential terrorist planning activities.
Hill, a former Coast Guard Master Sargeant, is based out of the Ferry Division's Cherry Branch operations office in Havelock. He was Operations Manager at Cherry Branch from 1998 to 2003 and then became the division's security coordinator 2003. In 2006, Hill was named to his current position.
Hill was the division's disaster coordinator during Hurricane Irene in charge of the command post in Morehead City. He helped decide when to shut down operations, when to evacuate and when to set up an emergency route as the ferries served as an emergency lifeline to Hatteras Island when N.C. 12 was breached.
The Ferry Division, the second largest ferry system in the nation, employs nearly 500 people. It serves seven routes along the coast and operates 21 vessels in its fleet, along with support vessels such as tugs, dredges and barges.
Each year, the ferries transport approximately one million vehicles and more than 2.1 million passengers. Ferries, a vital part of Eastern North Carolina's economy, operate 365 days a year, weather permitting. They are the only mode of transportation to Ocracoke Island.
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