River patrols keep base border safe|
by Senior Airman Christopher Stoltz
Air University Public Affairs
6/29/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- The Alabama River meanders along the western boundary of Maxwell Air Force Base and is as much a part of the base's history as the base's rich architecture and educational heritage. Beyond the miles that stretch the base's borders, the river varies in width from 50 to 200 yards (46 to 180 m) and in depth from 3 to 40 feet (1 to 12 m). The river's total length as measured by the United States Geological Survey is 318.5 miles (512.6 km) and by steamboat measurement, 420 miles (680 km).
Most who live, work or study on base rarely consider the base's river border, but for some security forces members, the river is a boundary to be secured in an unconventional manner. Members of the 42nd Security Forces Squadron patrol the river coastline of Maxwell looking for people who might need assistance, for possible squatters or for others who may have more devious thoughts.
"No one gains unauthorized access to Maxwell using this [river] thoroughfare, we will not allow it," said Staff Sgt. David Jones, 42nd Security Forces Squadron. "The individuals manning the boats are trained and can handle situations on the water appropriately and are as effective on water as they are on land."
Security forces members monitor and patrol the coast along the river using two boats, enabling the capability of covering a large area in a short amount of time. It also allows them to react quickly to events or incidents if and when they occur, he said.
Jones noted that patrolling the river is an important part of base security. To perform most effectively, security forces members who patrol the river train extensively with local marine police before they are allowed to patrol.
"Having these capabilities is vital," he said. "It is one thing for a person to attempt to gain access to Maxwell through the various gates, where there are entry control points, cameras and SFS personnel. It is another thing to attempt to gain unauthorized access using the river."
Technical Sgt. Andrae Drisdom, police services non-commissioned officer in charge, 42nd SFS, said it is not uncommon to find a water-faring person fishing near the base, or attempting to tie their craft to Maxwell's dock, located on River Road.
"It is apparent that not all people have bad intentions," said Drisdom. "However, it is important to remain vigilant because you always have to be ready for the one time a person might be doing something they shouldn't.
Drisdom said the safety and security of the entire base is everyone's responsibility and it is important for individuals who observe suspicious activities on the river front to contact the 42nd SFS at 953-7222.