By Don KramerApril 17, 2009
FORT LEWIS, Wash. - You don't hear much about the Army Crime Prevention Program on a daily basis. But if you needed proof of the local priority placed on crime prevention, you need only see the policy letter from I Corps Commanding General Lt. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., signed within days of his deploying to Iraq.
The new policy not only emphasized the need for all units and individuals to be alert for crimes, but also authorized hiring a crime prevention specialist. April Cook began work a few weeks ago, located with the Force Protection Division in the Directorate of Emergency Services.
Cook was impressed that among the hundreds of things on Jacoby's mind as he left to take charge of Multi-National Corps-Iraq, he took time to re-emphasize crime prevention.
"It's just something the Army probably lost focus on," Cook said. "(We need to start) charging the battery."
The program carries the weight of the Organization Inspection Program, an area that will be regularly evaluated in units, said Michael Chesbro, a coworker in force protection.
"It's important to remember crime prevention, under the new policy, is part of the OIP program, so it is inspectible," Chesbro said. "The inspections will be done, or at least led, by Ms. Cook."
Though she will be part of the inspection process, she sees her responsibilities more to teach and remind units about crime prevention practices.
"I'm the good cop," Cook said. "My goal is to educate the units, the families and the community on trying to prevent crime. The units should expect to see me (a lot)."
The crime prevention specialist is available to speak in a variety of settings, from offices to units and family readiness groups.
On the installation level, Cook sits atop a three-phase approach to crime prevention. The policy letter breaks down the effort into a problem-identification and resourcing phase, an implementation phase and a review phase.
But on a personal level, Cook calls for strong doses of simple common sense.
"I just want (people) to know that DES is here to help (and remind people) to lock up their stuff," she said. "More or less it's crimes of opportunity here on Fort Lewis."
"If you leave your vehicle unlocked, things get taken out of it," Chesbro said. "When you say you're going to run to the Post Exchange from your quarters and you leave your back door open, people break in. If you lock it, they tend not to."
Cook said most thefts on the installation are not personal.
"It's not a target against a person," she said. "It's just 'There's TA 50 in an unsecure car. It's not that I don't like you. It's just that I want your stuff and it's easy to get to.'"
Cook speaks with the voice of experience, having served in the Army as a corrections and internment specialist at Fort Lewis and Fort Richardson, Alaska. She later worked with the Department of Army Police in Alaska, progressing to physical security/crime prevention specialist.
The I Corps and Fort Lewis crime prevention officer is in Building 2007, Room 38. Cook can be reached at 966-8909.
Don Kramer is a reporter with Fort Lewis' Northwest Guardian.