By Spc. Beth Lake, 2ID Public Affairs OfficeApril 16, 2007
Bright lights, big city. This phrase describes a four-block area called Newtown, outside Camp Casey, where many Soldiers go for well-needed rest and relaxation during their off-duty time.
Restaurants, shops and bars line the streets. These are things that draw Soldiers to a community, said Lt. Col. David Kelly, 2nd Infantry Division provost marshal.
"I want Soldiers who are choosing Newtown as an off-duty location for relaxing, and to shop and eat, to feel safe down there," Kelly said.
This is why Kelly met with the superintendent of Gyeonggi Province and asked for his support in creating joint patrols.
Each joint patrol has an American and Korean military policeman, a Korean National Investigator and two Korean National Policemen.
The Korean MP and the Korean National Investigator serve as interpreters between the U.S. Soldiers and the Korean National Police if Soldiers are in need of assistance.
The main purpose of the patrols is to provide assistance. When Soldiers see the military police and the Korean National Police, they will know they are taken care of, Kelly said.
The MPs have agreements with local entertainment districts such as "the Ville," Kelly said. They do not have the same agreements with the bars and establishments in Newtown.
The joint patrols will ensure that Soldiers are provided the same level of security and safety in Newtown, as they currently have in other entertainment areas.
The KNPs also have jurisdiction to deal with Korean nationals and third-country nationals, whereas U.S. MPs do not, Kelly said. If an incident occurs with a third-country national or Korean national, the KNPs can take over. If there is an incident with a U.S. Soldier, the U.S. MPs are there to handle the situation.
"I think it's a good idea," said Pfc. Jessica Templeton-Lynch, an MP with the 55th Military Police Company who has conducted the joint patrols. "It ensures the safety of Soldiers so they feel safe going out on their off-time."
Pfc. Yoon Suk Song of the 55th Military Police Company has also conducted the joint patrols. He said he is happy to be conducting them and feels they are creating a safe environment for U.S. Soldiers and Korean nationals.
The joint patrols have been received well by Soldiers and are rolling into their fourth weekend with no incidents, Kelly said. They will run on the weekends for an indefinite period of time.
"As long as we are down there and we show that we care and that there is cooperation between the MPs and KNPs we are potentially stemming off any threats to our U.S. Soldiers," Kelly said. "A level of safety is what I am able to provide through these patrols."