By QUENTIN MELSON, 20th Support Command (CBRNE)June 10, 2009
Two 20th Support Command (CBRNE) noncommissioned officers joined the Aberdeen Police Department for a ride with the Aberdeen chief of police May 18.
The ride was designed to strengthen ties between Soldiers on the Army's oldest active proving ground and the "Future of Harford!" as the city's motto attests.
Highlights of the day included a squad car ride along with the chief of police, a "meet and greet" with Aberdeen City Council members, and a tour of the Aberdeen Police headquarters. The joint event between APG and the City of Aberdeen was initiated by the Aberdeen Chapter of the Association of the United States Army.
"The ride along with the Aberdeen Police demonstrated how the APG community - specifically the 20th Support Command (CBRNE), AUSA, and the local Aberdeen communities - can all work well together," said Mary Jane Jernigan, president of the Aberdeen Chapter of AUSA. "I consider it a bridging between the geographically co-located communities. This demonstrates our willingness to work together."
As reward for their outstanding service, Staff Sgt. Tashika Prue and Staff Sgt. Kellie Steilow were chosen by 20th SUPCOM to participate in the ride along. They say they benefited from the experience.
"The ride along definitely increased my appreciation for what law enforcement officers do everyday," said Steilow, a supply sergeant. "I had respect for what they did in the first place, but to be given a behind-the-scenes view of what goes on from the lowest level to what the chief of police does makes you appreciate the work they do even more. It seems like they are doing a great job.
The statistics are amazing." The statistics Steilow referred to are the low percentages of major crime in and around Aberdeen. The Aberdeen Police Chief quoted recent figures.
"Serious crimes we report to the FBI have been consistently going down in the last few years," said Randy M. Rudy, Aberdeen chief of police. "It has all been because of the guys and the gals in the police department making things work."
The ride along was designed to give APG Soldiers an understanding and appreciation of parts of Aberdeen they may not ordinarily be exposed to. The trip to the city's crime lab was the highlight for one 20th SUPCOM Soldier.
"Going to the Aberdeen Police Department Crime Lab was one of the cool moments of the ride along," said Prue, a data system integrator. "I really liked seeing how the finger prints were analyzed. The chief showed how if they were unable to process fingerprints through dusting, then they would put the prints into a compartment, put chemicals on them, heat the prints and analyze the results."
Chief Rudy spoke with the two NCOs about Aberdeen's history with APG and the important connection APG has with the city of Aberdeen.
"APG is part of the fabric that the city of Aberdeen is woven with," Rudy said. "I've been here nine years and there has always been good interaction across the fence."
The chief has an interesting personal history with the APG Directorate of Emergency Services. His relationship with the current director, Robert Krauer, goes way back.
"About twenty-five years ago Robert Krauer was in the Army CID [Criminal Investigation Division]. I was a detective sergeant with the state police. A case that I worked brought us together. After that case was over, we never saw each other again. Then, nine years ago, I ended up with this position and I was thinking to myself 'I wonder who the APG provost marshal is''
"I picked up the phone and found that it's the same guy I worked with when I was with the state police. We renewed our old relationship and it has certainly been to the benefit of APG and to the city, because there was no testing the waters or determining a level of trust. We already knew each other."
Community engagement events that APG has hosted have gone a long way to maintain the level of comfort that the city of Aberdeen has with the installation.
"The folks at APG are doing all the right things," Rudy said. "The garrison commander interacts with us regularly. Major General Paul S. Izzo has invited us out for breakfast sessions. He has made sure that a partnership with the local community was a priority right off the bat.
"From my perspective as the chief of police, I think the Army is doing everything that they can to have the right working relationship with the city of Aberdeen. We are also both working very, very closely in regards to making sure that BRAC [base realignment and closure] is handled in the right manner as well."
For the past 92 years, APG and Aberdeen have shared the same region of Maryland, between a busy stretch of Interstate 95 and the swampy shore of the Chesapeake Bay.
According to Rudy, the ride along has extended the tradition of good will between the neighbors.
"The ride-along further cements the relationship that the city of Aberdeen and APG share," Rudy said. "I think that anytime we have an opportunity to interact with the proving ground in a positive manner, it is a good thing. To have these two folks come off of the proving ground and get to learn a little bit about the city and learn about what the chief of police here in the city does on a daily basis is great. Getting a perspective of what somebody else does and having a flavor for what they do always helps."