By Paige Gnann
The Mirror editor
With the updates to Naval Station Mayport's roadways and mandated security measures, Mayport's Security department has implemented several changes to the way drivers get on and off base.
Security Officer Lt. Erik Eriksen and Police Operations Officer Major Allan Schlegel sat down to explain what changes have been made and why. Many of the changes stem from a March 2016 incident at NAS Lemoore, Calif., involving a civilian vehicle that breached gate security and crashed into a FA-18 parked on the runway on base.
Q: The Main Gate has new stop signs painted on the road. Why are you requiring people to stop at those signs rather than just pull forward as before?
A: This is a CNIC mandated directive to stop the vehicles before they proceed to the entry patrol point. The reason we have vehicles stop is to give the sentry time to identify the vehicle and respond if they fail to stop. It gives our sentry more of a reaction time than when a car would just pull up to the gate. This measure is something we have in place to help the sentries to identify a threat.
Q: Even if I'm the only car at the gate do I have to stop?
Yes. You stop and proceed when directed.
Q: Why do you have speed bumps?
The speed bumps are to slow down traffic approaching the gates for the protection and safety of our sentries.
Q : Why is traffic so slow coming off base?
The speed bumps are designed to be traversed between 10-13 miles per hour. The reason that we have so much traffic is because people stop at the speed bumps and go over them much slower than necessary. That is the probably prime contributor to the traffic problem that we have. It has a ripple effect. The other thing I would offer is there are two other exit points on the installation at Gate 5 and Hanna Park that are rarely used. If people actually utilized those access points, you'd probably see a pretty significant reduction in traffic coming on and leaving the installation.
Q: Why is there only one outbound lane open instead of two during much of the day?
During non-peak hours, we go to one lane outbound. We serpentine the lane with barriers to slow down traffic going out and preventing traffic from coming in if there is no traffic at all.
Q: If someone wants to go through Seminole gate at Hanna Park, can they leave through Hanna Park without a sticker?
You have to register through Pass & ID to get a Hanna Park sticker to traverse the Hanna Park property. The reason for that is we have an agreement with the city to access the gate through the park without a paying an entrance fee. You must be active duty military or DoD personnel. Retirees, dependents and contractors do not have the option to use Hanna Park gate. That should still alleviate some of the traffic of main gate.
Q: There seems to be an increase of vehicles stopped for speeding on base. Why?
Security has started a new traffic enforcement watchbill and is bringing extra people in for traffic control. These officers are going to be writing tickets - speeding and even parking tickets. Since they have finished the Massey Avenue project, the speeding has increased. The road is a 25-mile-per-hour speed zone. Over a four day period, we wrote about 16 tickets at 40 miles or higher down that road - the highest being 49 mph. These tickets are going to be reported through the Security department up to the Commanding Officer. We use point systems in the Navy based on the traffic violation, but at the same time the captain can adjust the punishment based on the ticket. One of the directions we are exploring is if you are over 20 mph over the speed limit, the potential for a base driving suspension for 30 days is possible. We are serious about this. We're trying to get the word out before we have to take drastic measures such as suspending driving privileges on base.
In the past, we didn't have a tool that would show whether a driver's privileges were suspended as they were entering the base. Things have changed with DBIDS (the Defense Biometric Identification System). All that information is placed in DBIDS, which links to the scanners. When somebody's driving privileges have been suspended, we're going to put them in DBIDS. Now it's going to show when they come through the gate if they are suspended. It will show if they are debarred. It will show if they have a warrant, because it is also being run through the NCIC (National Crime Information Center) computer system. Our scanners are capable of scanning fingerprints and reading ID cards to verify the identity of the person who is presenting the ID. Those scanners are also capable of doing a simultaneous check for wants and warrants through the law enforcement system at the time of the scan. So not only can we flag people that have been suspended for driving or other various factor. That system will actually check that individual to see if they have arrest warrants from Florida or anywhere nationally. If they do, we have to take action at that time. It's happened a few times here. The system does work.
Q: Have you worked out all the kinks in DBIDS?
Yes. So all the things we had problems with before relating to dependents was DEERS talking to the system. It didn't affect active duty members. It's all been updated. Now if someone comes up and it says 'certificate not identified', more than likely it is a problem through DEERS or the actual certificate has expired.
Q: Pedestrians and Massey Avenue. How should people use crosswalks? What are the responsibilities of pedestrians and responsibilities of drivers on Massey Avenue?
There seem to be less crosswalks than what we had, especially down by Building One so people just cross there. People are crossing at their own risk. Traffic has right of way. Pedestrians do have the right of way when at a crosswalk. Some of the crosswalks are now located at lights. Make sure to walk with the correct light. Again, they must pay attention and use safety
Q. But don't pedestrians have the right of way?
Only in the crosswalk. There are no crosswalks in front of Building One.
Q: CART. What results did Security end up with CART?
CART is a very broad assessment of the Security department. Our overall score was 81 percent. There are various subsections within there, which translates to second best in the U.S. and best in the Region. We did pretty well on the CART assessment. Our next phase will be a regional assessment in 2017 and final phase of the certification process will be in mid 2018.
Q: What training does Security have in the coming months?
Next event for us is an active shooter with LCSRON in December. We have a number of exercises that are stand alone exercise within Security to include ECP penetration and Harbor Patrol exercises. The big one will be Solid Curtain/Citadel Shield last week of January/first week of February. The first week in February is the one that is most impactful to the naval station.
Q: Any last thoughts?
I will say we do our share. If you look at those lanes in the morning time, you will see six sentries out there all checking ID cards and trying to process as many cars out there as we can. People have to remember that we have a job to do and we have to maintain security. If there was a time somebody try to expose a weakness, it would be during that high traffic time so we have to maintain our standards. We do our best to process folks through the entry control points as quickly and safely as we can. We have a job to do. We have instructions to follow, directions to follow just like everybody else and we do it to the best of our capability.
And to preach patience, because I know people that are waiting in traffic can get frustrated. Please be patient when you come up on these sentries. They've been working 12 hours a day checking ID cards. They should be shown as much respect as possible. I've been up there and heard people being very short with the sentries that are doing their job to keep the base secure.