FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The Fort Rucker Directorate of Public Safety is engaged in a balancing act that all boils down to protection during the COVID-19 pandemic.The security, law enforcement, and fire and emergency services professionals on post are challenged to continue their mission of protecting the people and assets of Fort Rucker, while also ensuring they are protecting their own teammates so they can accomplish the critical DPS mission, according to director Lt. Col. Phillip Lenz.“Preserving and protecting the DPS force – that is my No. 1 mission,” Lenz said. “It’s about informing and educating the team based on information from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and our higher headquarters; it’s about making sure our people have the proper PPE (personal protective equipment); and it’s about practicing social distancing wherever and whenever we can while still getting the job done.”He added that while the COVID-19 pandemic creates many uncertainties, the direction and guidance from higher up the chain of command has been clear from the start.“The CG (Maj. Gen. David J. Francis, Fort Rucker and U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence commanding general) and garrison commander (Col. Whitney B. Gardner) have been exceptional with communicating that the the No. 1 focus being protecting the force,” Lenz said. “When you hear that from higher leadership, it really resonates and applies across the overall force – definitely for our team.”With the COVID-19 pandemic, it also comes down to being “prepared and ready to support the USAACE flight training mission, where we compliment and support what is happening on the ground and, most importantly, what is happening in the skies,” he said.“I think we’re looking really good across the board with that with our prevention measures in place,” he said, adding that the DPS team is educated on the threat, has the proper protective equipment they need and has a firm grasp of its mission. “We’re doing everything we can to make sure we have a full, prepared, robust team that can accomplish our mission.”Above and beyond the steps already mentioned, 911 operators are screening callers for any potential symptoms among the people where the call originates from so responders can ensure they have the proper PPE, using the phone whenever possible when dealing with minor issues and going digital with many administrative duties, according to Lenz.“We’re really taking a more pragmatic approach to help ensure we maintain social distancing to preserve the force,” he said. “If there’s a true threat on the installation, we will respond, but we are doing lot of different things to help us meet the CG’s and national intent of keeping social distancing within our lines of effort.”Lenz credits his team for the successes DPS has experienced so far during the pandemic.“We have a very professional security and law enforcement team, and fire and emergency services team,” he said. “We exist for our customers and they definitely need us to be ready to respond to anything that could come up at any time. We in DPS remain poised and ready to deliver professional, world-class emergency services to everyone on the installation.”And off the installation, as well, as in recent weeks the Fort Rucker Fire Department has responded to fires in Daleville and Enterprise to continue fulfilling the mutual aid agreements the post maintains with surrounding communities, Lenz added.“(The surrounding communities) have always been there to help us out and we want to make sure that we continue to help them,” he said. “We had a fire recently, a pretty large structural fire in Daleville, and our team deployed and helped limit the damage and helped save lives. Our great team is not just about protecting people inside the confines of Fort Rucker – we can reach out and balance that mission and also support the local communities that support us.”Lenz added that while the community is following orders and staying inside, Fort Rucker hasn’t seen any kind of crime spike on post, but reports nationally of alcohol sales going up by 50% are definitely on his radar.“Of course, when you have an increase in alcohol consumption, one unfortunate byproduct is you often see an increase in domestic violence cases, child abuse cases and the like,” he said. “We haven’t seen that here, but I would like to ask people to be smart about how they are doing things and to keep their eyes open to problems in their vicinity.“We realize social distancing and some of the directives that we have in place can be challenging at times, but let’s not resort to alcohol, and if you do, make sure alcohol is being consumed responsibly and is not fueling criminal activity. Aviation students worked too hard to get here only to have their careers ruined by alcohol,” Lenz said.“We, as the military police, are the eyes and ears out there and we’ve done a really good job of interacting with the public, mostly during the weekends and during evening hours, making sure people are practicing social distancing,” he said. “But we also look to our friends and neighbors who live on the installation to get that word out and help us make sure everyone is practicing social distancing. If you see something, say something to the other individuals and take that community approach.”He also reminded people that the post still maintains its 911 call center at all times to report emergencies on post, and people can also call the military police at 255-2222 if necessary.