By Mr. Eric Pilgrim (Fort Knox news)March 16, 2018
Two weeks ago, a suspected murderer from Georgia attempted to gain access to Fort Knox.
Georgia officials had issued a warrant for her arrest before she arrived. Guards at Chaffee Gate identified her and called police, who took her into custody without incident.
The commanding general of U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox said this is not a cause for concern but rather celebration and appreciation for what the gate guards accomplish every day.
"Fort Knox will be held to the highest standard because it's my moral responsibility, our moral responsibility, to protect the citizens who reside and work on this post," said Maj. Gen. Chris Hughes.
In fiscal year 2017, gate guards at the Fort Knox Directorate of Emergency Services halted 556 drug trafficking, distribution and possession attempts as well as prevented 570 people from entering the installation who have warrants. About 26 percent of those warrants were extraditable, meaning the people attempting to get in were not from the area.
"Believe it or not we even get some Soldiers with warrants, and Family members with warrants," said Jamie Desrochers, chief of Physical Security at Fort Knox.
For the same fiscal year, two individuals were identified as being on FBI terrorist watch lists.
Another problematic area has been with firearms and handguns. On any given month, guards bust 10 or more individuals for weapons violations.
Since the imple- mentation of the Automated InstallationEntry screening technology at Fort Knox about two years ago, security personnel are now not only able to identify who is attempting to gain access, but also what illegal activities they may have been involved in.
The guards are capable of identifying fraudulent military ID cards, including the more than 1,200 cards that were confiscated during fiscal 2017, whether because they have expired, are duplicates, or cardholders aren't authorized to use them.
Fort Knox is considered a place of interest to many visitors, whether they come for summer Cadet Command Cadet Summer Training graduations, ROTC competitions, training exercises, or simply to use MWR facilities and attend holiday festivals. Last year, guards saw more than 105,000 first-time visitors. Of those, 1,113 were denied access because they failed the vetting requirements.
"People need to know that the access control system we have is a mandate. It's not commander-driven, it's a Department of Army, Department of Defense order," said Hughes.
All the efforts to protect Fort Knox citizens come with a price -- time. The system requires more time to search records and determine the validity of a person's identity.
"It's why we have 10- to 15-minute waits at the gates in the morning," said Desrochers.
Desrochers said he hopes people would want to sacrifice a little of their time to remain safe, yet complaints about the wait times still come in -- about four or five a week.
"I'm hoping we're not going to allow the public to influence what we do," said Desrochers. "What we do is very important and we need to keep doing it."
Hughes said while he understands the frustration, lowering the standard for the sake of convenience won't happen on his watch.
"The command wants to make the community happy," said Hughes. "I see so many people waiting in line in the morning, but I'm not going to make a comfort-based decision and put lives at risk."