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October 9, 2013

Duncan airman involved in new defender program

DUNCAN — In the past few months one might have noticed increased enforcement of the base’s speed limits, stop signs and other traffic laws due to a 379th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron law enforcement initiative that was implemented near the beginning of August.

“After being here less than two months, I saw a smattering of LE-type issues,” said Maj. Thomas Segars, the 379th ESFS commander and a Hiawassee, Ga., native. “The base and mission sets have been here a long time, we’ve always focused on base defense, but didn’t have a good mechanism to control police services, whether it's traffic-related, assaults, DUIs, alcohol related incidents, etc.”

Combining years of knowledge, training and experience across the 379th ESFS, a law enforcement program was built from the ground up.

“Working collaboratively with base legal, and bringing together concepts we learned here and concepts used back in the states, i.e. base defense, security of assets and LE, we built the program. Together we also created a baseline LE training program that now all the troops who deploy here will receive,” Segars said.

The need for a robust LE program was seen as essential as the wing transitions its mission set to an ‘enduring presence.’

“For us, our mission is still defending the base, but now we are also focusing on law enforcement as well,” said Capt. Andrew Ferguson, the 379th ESFS director of operations and a Santa Clarita, Calif., native. “Now that people are here longer, and the infrastructure is more permanent, this is more like home, so there’s that need for law enforcement.”

With the increase of permanent party members and population throughout the base, one of the most apparent reasons for the program is the safety of individuals around the base.

“Defenders by trade provide both security of resources and law enforcement,” said Ferguson. “People are our most important resource, so we are looking out for them.”

With force protection being their top priority, the 379th ESFS leadership team took care to select airmen who have previous LE experience, good personal and communication skills to fill the role of Police One — the LE patrol, Segars said.

One such Airman, Senior Airman Joshua DeYoung, is one of the defenders frequently assigned to Police One. His experience from his home station as well as from previous deployments gave him the needed tools to successfully operate the 12-hour Police One shifts. He uses those 12 hours to complete three ‘selectives,’ and at the same time train up new defenders that may not have the background he does.

“We have to do at least three selectives, where we set up on a certain spot and watch for specific offenses, whether those are seat belt, stop sign or speeding violations,” said DeYoung, who is deployed here from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., and a Duncan native. “I usually post with my Alpha, or my patrol partner, and show them how to fill out a ticket properly, how to interact with offenders, and how to properly fill out a Form 1168 for incidents.”

DeYoung has been part of the LE program since its beginning stages, has seen the radical improvements brought on by the program.

“After the first month -- after so many people were actually pulled over -- it changed drastically, and you could see people making stops,” he said. “Whether or not they saw us, or were just being more aware, they changed their driving habits. Commanders are now pushing it; they’re briefing troops on following the traffic laws.”

The ticket numbers have gone from between 50 to 80 citations per week to now a mere six to 10 citations.

“Fewer citations, means people are driving safer,” said DeYoung, as he explained the critical role played by the LE program here. “To me, it’s extremely important because it’s going to help stop minor vehicle accidents, stop possibilities of major accidents or of people getting injured from not paying attention. Overall it’s a safer place.”

DeYoung said they accomplished what they set out to do by protecting the government’s number one asset, its people.

“In the last few weeks, there’s been a reduction in accidents, whether that’s correlated to the LE program, is yet to be determined,” said Segars. “We think there is a relation, but we just don’t have the complete data to determine that now, but if you look around the base, you can see people actually stopping at signs, and for the most part they are slowing down and are cognizant of their speeds.”

And according to Segars, there’s another great benefit brought on by LE.

“We want to do our part to make sure people redeploy safely after completing their mission here,” he said.

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