Your DES at work

Guest Column

By Lt. Col. Seamus Patrick Garrett, Director, Directorate of Emergency Services

The Fort Meade Directorate of Emergency Services is successful only if it can create a sense of trust and confidence in the community it supports.

That’s happening every day!

Let’s look “behind the scenes” at the work DES men and women do daily to provide a safe installation, free from the dangers we see across other communities.

And it starts at the front door — The Demps Visitor Control Center.

Although several Army regulations and policies govern who may enter the post and why, the easiest way to remember how we allow access can be summed up:

1. Have a legitimate need to enter

2. The ability to pass a National Crime Information Center criminal background check

In FY 2016, 293 individuals were denied access for criminal histories alone. So far in FY 2017, we have denied 286 personnel access to post.

The VCC is doing its job every day to prevent criminal access to our common areas, our workplaces, our schools and our homes. They are truly the first line of defense for Fort Meade.

Working hand-in-glove with the VCC are the professionals that make up our installation guard force. Many are former veterans serving once again and making a difference daily.

They represent the next layer of security for our post and ensure the safe transit of personnel across four access control points (ACP) to the third largest installation (by population) in the U.S.

As the VCC screens upfront, guards are ensuring that those who attempt access through an ACP are authorized via the Automated Installation Entry System.

The driver, as well as the ID presented, and the results of the scan are all taken in real time. If cleared, the light turns green and the gate lifts.

What is not seen by those transiting the gates daily is all of the other work guards perform to reinforce the efforts of the VCC and keep the community safe.

Through April of this fiscal year, guards confiscated 1,206 ID cards (mutilated, expired, unauthorized, etc.) and cited 26 drivers for having no or expired driver’s licenses.

They also inspected more than 6,000 private and commercial vehicles to prevent the transport of explosives, narcotics and other prohibited materials onto Fort Meade — all the while engaging thousands of customers each day.

Our Fort Meade Police is a blend of military and civilian personnel. Military police, provided by the 241st MP Detachment, work side by side with Department of the Army civilian police to patrol, respond and investigate crimes committed on the installation outside the scope of the Criminal Investigation Division.

Fort Meade Police respond to everything from shoplifting to traffic fatalities. Domestic assaults, larcenies, simple assaults and crimes involving property are all part of our lives and require competent and professional law enforcement to handle appropriately.

As nine-time winners of the National Night Out event, two-time winners of the International Chiefs of Police Law Enforcement Challenge, two-time winners of the Maryland Law Enforcement Challenge and recent Federal Executive Board winners (Silver, 2016 and 2017) for traffic programs, you can see the team you have works hard for the safety and security of the Fort Meade community.

One of the most visible parts of the DES is our fire department. In 2016, firefighters responded to, on average, 12 to 15 calls a day. Mutual aid agreements with local fire departments, outreach support to local communities and participation in all major Fort Meade events make this fire department the best in class inside the DoD.

Although structure fires are uncommon on post, they do happen. The collective response to the fire last summer at the Pet Care Center was a sight to see as Anne Arundel County, Fort Meade Fire and Emergency Services and a host of other agencies responded rapidly, preventing a catastrophic event involving more than 30 pets. This is mutual aid agreements at work!

Binding all of this together is the DES team who handle the dispatching, law enforcement checks, administration, AWOL apprehension, traffic, MP investigations, community policing and other operations functions.

Fort Meade, your DES and its dedicated professionals are serving you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year in all weather conditions to provide you with the most safe and secure environment possible.

Team Meade!

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