Community involvement boosts security
December 17, 2009
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- The Fort Hood shooting that left 12 Soldiers and one DA civilian dead Nov. 5 sent shockwaves across U.S. military installations, leaving some people to wonder whether a similar incident could happen elsewhere.
Though Fort Jackson officials cannot discuss what specific measures are in place to prevent a similar attack from occurring here, they assure the public that there is no reason to worry about safety on post.
"Fort Jackson is a tight-knit community. It's a very safe place to be, I can assure you that," said Col. Ronald Taylor, director of emergency services and provost marshal. "If you see what happens on our installation compared to what happens within five miles of our installation, there's no question that we're a very safe community."
Taylor said that Military Police are on duty around the clock to keep it that way.
"We do a lot of things that people don't realize," he said. "We do have patrols out 24 hours a day. We do have our K-9 (units) out 24 hours a day. We have representation from our SRT (Special Reaction Team) on the installation 24 hours a day."
Mark Mallach, the installation anti-terrorism officer, said that it takes a consolidated effort of several agencies to assure the safety of everyone on Fort Jackson.
"You have multiple entities that work together to enforce security and make the installation safer through proactive measures and mitigation measures," Mallach said.
"We all work together as a team, and that's how it should be."
Mallach's office recently released key indicators to identify potential inside terrorist threats.
"This is just driving home the point that we need to know what to look for, but at the same time, we need to be reasonable about it," he explained. "Not everybody who walks into your office, or with whom you come in contact, who might be different from you is going to be a terrorist."
Mallach said that threats could also come from a number of other sources, such as disgruntled employees or people who are otherwise emotionally unstable.
Taylor and Mallach said that even the best security measures may not protect against every possible scenario. They added that community involvement is necessary to help law enforcement identify potential threats.
"We rely on the eyes and ears of our community to keep us aware of what's going on," said John Coynor, installation force protection officer. "If (people) have a neighbor, if they have a co-worker who seems to be disturbed, who seems to be having problems, they should bring it to somebody's attention."
Taylor said his organization is community-oriented and he asks community members to participate in the process of keeping the installation safe.
"Anytime anybody sees anything that's out of the norm -- like a vehicle that's parked somewhere it shouldn't be parked, someone who just looks out of place -- don't be afraid to call us and let us know," he said. "Let us look into it and figure out what's going on. ... That's what we're here for."