By Norman Shifflett | Fort Carson Public Affairs Office
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Recently at nearly 1 p.m., Spc. Paul Cousino was preparing for a shift change at Gate 4 when he noticed movement beyond the gate.
“I turned around and I see two police cars chasing a vehicle, and I was wondering what was going on,” said Cousino, a Soldier with 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, tasked with gate guard duty. “I realized when the vehicle was about to speed though the lane — that it is running from the police.”
The vehicle sped through the gate at 65 mph.
Without hesitation, Cousino hit the button to deploy the Ground Retractable Automobile Barrier (GRAB) system, which is used to stop vehicles from entering Fort Carson.
Meanwhile, Pfc. Mathew Matamoros, gate guard, 759th Military Police Battalion, was diligently checking IDs for cars entering during the lunch rush.
“I heard a large commotion (and) the revving engine of the car coming through, but I didn’t want to take my eyes off the vehicle I was dealing with,” said Matamoros. “By the time I did turn around, he had already hit the GRAB system, and I saw the driver jump out of his car window, and he took off toward the railroad (on post).”
The Colorado State Patrol (CSP) vehicles, who were chasing the vehicle, stopped outside the gate and waited.
Fort Carson and the law enforcement agencies in the local communities and state have mutual aid agreements that lay out how each agency will work together within each other’s jurisdiction. Nevertheless, after the vehicle passed through the gate CSP would have needed permission from Fort Carson to enter, instead the MPs took over the search for the suspect.
Since the vehicle hit the GRAB system, CSP was waived onto post to detain the suspect.
“I am very proud of the people who were on shift at the time of the incident,” said Lt. Jonathan M. Arcand, supervisory security guard, Directorate of Emergency Services (DES). “Working the gates, nothing happens for days on end, and then all of a sudden it’s zero to 60, so it is important for them to be trained and prepared to react when the time comes.”
Many people may not understand the importance of gate-guard duties. While safeguarding the community inside Fort Carson’s fence, they must prevent drugs, unregistered firearms, unauthorized personnel and any other illegal items from entering the installation.
“The access control gates to Fort Carson are our first line of defense,” said Ricky Oxendine, deputy director, DES. “That is why it is important that the (Soldiers), MPs and (Department of the Army) civilians are trained to provide that level of protection.”
Fort Carson DES not only includes security and access control, but emergency communications and much more. The directorate has a major role in the security and safety of the Fort Carson community.
“DES deals with anything that has to do with security, law enforcement and fire and emergency services,” said Oxendine. “All of these deal with the health, life and safety of our community.”
And everyone involved requires training. While the MPs go through more extensive training in their individual school, the tasked Soldiers receive one week of training, which consists of classroom instruction and four days of on-the-job training before pulling gate duty. Other training these Soldiers receive includes the use of force, apprehension training, how to inspect identifications and how to inspect vehicles.
They also have non-lethal weapons training, including carrying and using Oleoresin Capsicum spray, also known as pepper spray. In order for the Soldiers to carry it, they must first go through training, which includes being sprayed in the face so they understand the effects of the spray.
All the training is necessary to give the gate guards the best outcome to react to any situation and keep the Fort Carson community safe.