Community 'beat cops' become pillar of base defense

  • Published
  • By Maj. Troy Austin
  • 42nd Security Forces Squadron commander
Red and blue lights reflect in the rearview mirror. Sighing, thoughts of speeding cross the mind. Maybe it was the stop sign we didn't fully stop at.

These are the thoughts most of us conjure up when we think of "security forces." If not that, then perhaps the iconic image of an entry controller posted at the gate during the morning drive to work. Our security forces members are continuously providing services to the community and base at large.

Security forces, in cooperation with Air Force senior leadership, have developed the concept of integrated base defense: incorporating multiple approaches and persons to provide defense for installations. Integrated base defense includes resource protection, crime prevention, antiterrorism, as well as the "every Airman is a sensor" idea.

A subtle yet very effective approach to this concept is community policing. Community policing efforts support integrated base defense through increased community confidence, exposure and interaction with the base populace.

Put quite simply, we want to get out of our police vehicles and spend time talking to our customers! From the outside, these efforts seem like old-fashioned "beat cop" policing. However, our "neighborhood" is Maxwell-Gunter, and the police officer is a sharp Air Force "defender."

Why do we want to do this? We want our security forces members to be familiar with the people and resources we protect and defend. In turn, we want the Maxwell-Gunter community to be familiar with our security forces members. This will build better rapport and establish a relationship based on mutual trust and caring support.

We know that with this relationship our customers will be more likely to provide information related to crimes and suspicious activities. And, for our security forces members it will reinforce the knowledge that our daily efforts are more than just a job -- that Maxwell-Gunter is our neighborhood to protect.

Some new initiatives that will occur during all shifts are: increased foot patrols throughout base residential areas and around centers of community activities (schools, youth centers, MEC, bus stops, etc.), increased Military Working Dog foot patrols in base residential areas and community activity areas, and security forces bicycle patrols in residential and community activity areas.

These patrols will help by providing a visual and physical deterrence to crime and attack. However, the patrols need to go beyond a quick walk or ride through the neighborhood. In order to be effective, the SF members will frequently stop and have friendly conversations with the people they are charged to protect. Ultimately these efforts will build rapport, as well as bolster trust and confidence.

Community policing is one of our pillars of integrated base defense. We look forward to working with you to ensure superior crime prevention and base defense for the residents and employees of Maxwell-Gunter. We are excited to serve and be a part of this community, and we look forward to speaking with you soon!