Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Peterson Space Observer

Gate signs deter drunk driving

(U.S. Air Force photo/Lea Johnson) The driving under the influence signs became effective shortly before Thanksgiving. Once a DUI has been confirmed, the squadron contacts the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron to have the magnetic signs made. If the base goes for several months without having a DUI, the name of the last squadron with a DUI will be taken off the sign.

By Lea Johnson

21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — A new accessory has been added to each of the gates to Peterson Air Force Base to heighten awareness of a serious topic.

Signs were put up at each of the gates earlier this fall, identifying the unit that last had a drunk driving occurrence. Shortly before Thanksgiving, a policy letter was sent out to all mission partners on Peterson AFB, and it was only a matter of time before the first squadron appeared on the signs.

Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Trottier, 21st Space Wing command chief, said the signs were put up because, despite efforts to make it clear that driving while intoxicated is unacceptable, DUIs unfortunately still happen. “In a perfect world it would be great not to have signs, but unfortunately we do,” he said.

The way the signs function is simple. “Once there is a validated DUI in a squadron, they have 24 hours to contact (civil engineering) to have magnetic ‘unit’ and ‘date’ signs made up. CE has 48 hours to turn around the signs and give them back to (the squadron) and then they have 24 hours to get them posted,” Trottier said.

How the signs get posted is up to the squadron commander. “If it was me, I’m going to have some sort of way to bring the offending party out there, maybe any kind of high risk people in my squadron, and put it up and have a discussion,” he said.

Originally the signs read, “Days since last DUI” but were later changed to read “Date of last DUI.” Trottier said that he didn’t like the original wording because he didn’t want the signs to be a burden to anyone. “I don’t want someone every day to have to go out there and put up new signs,” he said. “I want it to be as low maintenance as possible, but still keep it front and center.”

Trottier also doesn’t want squadrons on the signs to wish for another squadron to get a DUI. “I would hate to be that squadron to be stuck up there forever and ever,” he said.

After a few months, if there have been no other DUIs, the squadron name will be pulled off the signs.

“Once a unit gets their name up there, the last thing we should be doing is rooting for another unit to get a DUI so that it can come down. If a unit stays out of trouble and the whole base stays out of trouble with alcohol and driving, then there shouldn’t be a name up there,” he said.

The exact amount of time before a squadron is pulled off the signs has yet to be determined.

However, for the Airman who gets caught drinking and driving, the DUI signs might be the least of their worries. “We have our eyes open and our ears to the ground. We’ll hear about it,” Trottier said.

Nothing good happens when you incorporate a lot of alcohol, he said, but if plans include drinking, make sure they are drunk-proof and get carried through until sober.

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