By Scott Prater
Department of the Air Force police members have been fielding a lot of questions as they’ve roamed the halls and streets of Schriever Air Force Base the past few months.
In their dark blue uniforms, they look like SWAT team members or some kind of special forces troops, but Schriever’s newest police aren’t on special assignment, they’re here permanently to support and supplement 50th Security Forces Squadron members.
The blue suiters began arriving last September and ultimately will perform every function their 50 SFS counterparts perform, from entry control point to traffic, security and armory duties.
“People are inquisitive when they see us,” said Schriever DAF police manager Tad Davis, a retired Air Force security forces chief who was formerly stationed here. “They’re thrown off by our uniforms. Many assume we’re similar to the contracted security members who formerly worked our entry gates, but we’re not simply gate guards. Our members have the authority that any 50 SFS member has on base.”
Most of the 15 Schriever DAF police members are veteran law enforcement professionals and many are former security forces or military police. They are required to complete the Veterans Administration Law Enforcement Training Course and be certified and qualified on all weapons systems used here. However, most are typically older than their 50 SFS members.
“One of the most important aspects of the DAF Police is they provide continuity for our security forces mission,” said Lt. Col. Jasin Cooley, 50 SFS commander. “All of our positions benefit from improved continuity, but there are some positions, such as desk sergeant, alarm monitor and security controller, where the improved corporate knowledge provided by our DAF police greatly benefits security.”
Davis explained that continuity is crucial for the security forces mission at Schriever.
“Our 50 SFS personnel often deploy for six months at a time, and when you consider pre-deployment training, that stint becomes even longer,” Davis said. “We don’t have people on the ground here for very long, so it’s important to have more permanent personnel performing continuity functions. Once all of our DAF police gain certification, they’ll be able to train incoming personnel in every function security forces performs on a daily basis.”
Though they may appear differently than 50 SFS members, they drive police vehicles, can issue tickets and have detainment and apprehension authority.
But, they’re not fully integrated into security forces just yet.
“Right now, most are in the midst of training at Schriever, learning all of the procedures, duties, tactics and rules specific to the base,” Davis said. “They will be good mentors to 50 SFS. It’s actually been a great two-way street in that regard, they are learning from their security forces counterparts as well as passing on knowledge and experiences.”
Davis was the first DAF policeman to arrive at Schriever last September and the force grew to nine members before the holiday break. The remaining six members have been added since the beginning of the year.
“We had two officers come on board during the wing’s compliance inspection last year and both responded to an active-shooter exercise at the fitness center on just their second day on shift,” Davis said. “Both knew exactly how to respond based on their previous experience and security forces training.”
Though some Schriever DAF police are already experienced as desk sergeants and dispatchers, they all will spend their first few months performing each security function on base.
“Even though the some are experienced shift supervisors they can’t work the shift if they don’t know what’s going on at each patrol and each post, so they are getting certified in those areas before we set them loose as response force leaders,” Davis said. “Some people may have already noticed DAF police at the entry gates, but everyone should start seeing us more regularly in other parts of the base, including the restricted area.”