By Maj. Kari McEwen (25th ID)November 14, 2013
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- Courtesy patrols began here Oct. 7 at the behest of the commanding general of the 25th Infantry Division and his command sergeant major.
A courtesy patrol team is comprised of a lieutenant and a sergeant first class who patrol an assigned area to inform Soldiers and Family members if they are violating 25th Inf. Div. or garrison policies. Four teams patrol four areas of Schofield Barracks and Wheeler Army Airfield. The teams patrol housing areas, the Post Exchange, the commissary, the gyms, and the Nehelani and Tropics Clubs.
Command Sgt. Maj. Benjamin Jones, 25th Inf. Div.'s senior noncommissioned officer said, "In starting courtesy patrols our goal is to help build individual discipline and enduring success resulting in more resilient Soldiers and Families but ultimately will promote a positive, safe and healthy environment here in Hawaii."
According to the 25th Inf. Div. and Schofield Barracks Standards Blue Book, the mission of the courtesy patrol, through education and on the spot corrections, is to enforce regulations and policies outlined in Army regulations, the Lightning Strong Policy Letter, and Garrison Policy Letter 31. The 25th Inf. Div. leadership wrote and distributed the Standards Blue Book to inform Soldiers, non-commissioned officers, and officers about basic standards for individual discipline, appearance, conduct, and military courtesy as established by Army Regulations and policies.
Sgt. Maj. Robert Parker, 25th Inf. Div. provost sergeant major, briefs incoming courtesy patrols and prepares them for their responsibility. He also receives briefs from outgoing courtesy patrols about their experiences during the shift.
1st Lt. Andrew Maitner, 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, who recently served as a courtesy patrol team leader, observed several Soldiers, NCOs, and officers fail to notice violations of Army regulations and not make corrections on others.
"Most people just don't know the rules. We make the correction and they typically say they weren't aware of the policy," said Maitner.
The division command sergeant major reminds all Soldiers who live and work on Schofield Barracks to uphold good order and discipline.
"We are Soldiers 24/7 and just because the duty day ends does not mean we stop adhering to Army regulations and policies. As an NCO or Officer, it is our responsibility to first of all know what the Army regulations and policies are, just don't pass it on by word of mouth, look it up. Secondly, have the courage to make on the spot corrections. By not doing so you have just created a new wrong standard for our Army," said Jones.
"It's more than just going out there and just looking for things to correct," Parker said. "It's actually helping educate people on what we want our military culture to be and some standards that we want to follow that are just basic, but they lead to better conduct."
Jones said, "We want for Soldiers and Family members to feel confident in going anywhere on this installation and not have to worry about being exposed to vulgar language, loud music with explicit lyrics, or people in improper civilian attire."
Schofield resident Holly Evans is appreciative of the courtesy patrol program.
"Asking people to dress appropriately and act appropriately isn't too much to ask," she said. "Some people need to be policed up. I know a lot of people wouldn't agree, especially those who are just spouses and don't think it should apply to them. But ultimately, the spouses and families represent the Soldier who represents the Army. Holding everyone to a higher standard is what we need around here."
Parker is hopeful that the initial growing pains of the courtesy patrols, as well as individuals around the installation taking on more of the responsibility to inform and educate standards violators, will ultimately lead to a more professional and courteous culture.
"Small programs like this speak also to the fact that we're a profession at arms and that our Soldiers should be committed to our Army Profession," Parker said. "So things like courtesy patrol, they make sure they do enforce a professional environment across the Army which is free of harassment and promotes and respects the individual dignity of Soldiers and civilians and allows them to realize their full potential."
Evans believes the courtesy patrol program will improve the sense of community and foster a culture of consideration for others. "I think it will make people more accountable for their actions," said Evans. "There are so many children running around doing what they want or people not following community rules. It almost makes neighbors resent each other. People might feel a bit warmer to their neighbors if they are all upholding the same standards."