MPs maintain 24-hour vigilance on Fort Leonard Wood
July 12, 2012
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- As the duty day closes on Fort Leonard Wood, the military police station gears up for evening patrols. Run by a team of civilians and military personnel, the MP station is open 24/7 to respond to crime and help prevent it.
On June 25, Jason Miketish, civilian police sergeant, was on patrol from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.
He said working the evening shift has its challenges, but it's important that someone is watching the streets at all times.
"The potential is always going to be there for something. It could be a disabled (vehicle). It could be someone having some sort of medical emergency. It could be something non-criminal -- and I think it's good for them just to see that we're out there, kind of one of those you-can-sleep-at-night type things," he said.
During the evening hours, there are specific things patrols watch for on the road besides traffic accidents and speeders, Miketish said.
"Any time from 1800 to 2100, that's when you'll have a lot of domestic issues. Anywhere from midnight until 2 is when your bar crowd comes out. After 3 o'clock, it slows down," he said.
Patrols also look out for drunk drivers, Miketish said, especially on weekends.
"Anytime I get a drunk driver off the road, I'm excited. That brings fulfillment to my job," he said.
Besides responding to events, Miketish also stops in certain areas just to make his presence known. He usually makes at least one stop at a park on post in the evening, to check for underage drinkers and make sure no one is getting into trouble.
"We've had some incidents out there," he said.
According to Pfc. Norman Washington, a Marine who frequents the park after duty hours, Miketish's visits have made a positive impact on the park atmosphere.
"It's a lot more quiet than it used to be," Washington said.
Miketish also stops by single Soldier housing at night. "I'm looking to see if anyone's having an argument or fight. Maybe they're trying to break into their house because we didn't get there fast enough to unlock it, because we do the lock-outs for these Soldiers after hours," he said. "We try to be as proactive as possible."
AT THE DESK
While officers like Miketish patrol the roads, others work at the MP desk, keeping track of every patrol car and incident throughout the night.
On June 25, a team of four worked the first desk shift from 2 p.m. to midnight: Glen Smith, patrol supervisor; Staff Sgt. Daniel Couch, 252nd Military Police Detachment, desk sergeant-in-training; Stephanie Santos, blotter clerk, and Spc. Oscar Gonzalez, 252nd MP Det., dispatcher. Like Miketish, Smith and Santos are part of the civilian police force that augments the MPs.
As desk sergeants, Smith and Couch answer the phone, review the day's case paperwork and approve what patrolling officers do on the road.
Smith said the job keeps him on his toes. "Anything can happen any time," he said.
Evenings can get pretty busy at the desk, Santos added, especially since most people don't report minor crimes until after the duty day.
"When something happens during the day, a lot of them won't report it until they're off work. So, something might have happened -- like maybe their car was hit in the parking lot … or they noticed there's damage at their house … they lost their keys or ID cards," she said.
Some of the most common phone calls are from people who have locked themselves out of on-post housing, she said.
As the blotter clerk, Santos formats all of the day's police reports into the "blotter report" describing the evening's cases, which becomes the commander's newspaper in the morning.
Writing the blotter report is hard work; however, she said the hardest job is Gonzales' position: radio-telephone operator, or dispatcher.
Gonzalez is in constant communication with patrol cars via radio.
"I basically track where everyone's at, what everyone's doing," Gonzalez said. "If a call comes in, I have to make sure the patrols get there as fast as possible."
If a patrol officer pulls someone over, he runs the background check on the driver's license.
"I also have the IDS system (for) all of the alarms all over post," he added. "If anything is going on -- if an arms room is being broken into -- we have to make sure we get a patrol out there as soon as possible. So we have three different computers going off at once."
"The evening shift is probably the worst shift," Gonzalez added. "It gets the most calls."
However, he said he knows working through the night is vital for keeping the community safe.
"In case anything happens, we are quick to react," he said.