Rodger D. Smith, a guard at Redstone Arsenal, checks the credentials of a motorist Friday afternoon.
Rodger D. Smith, a guard at Redstone Arsenal, checks the credentials of a motorist Friday afternoon. (Photo Credit: Erin Elise Enyinda) VIEW ORIGINAL

It’s been a couple of weeks since the guards manning the gates on post have started to physically inspect patrons’ access credentials, but questions linger about the practice that was standard prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For the security of the installation, we can make sure the cards are not duplicates, they’re not fraudulent, and that they are serviceable,” Jonathan Arcand, Redstone’s chief of guards, said. “If they’re not serviceable, we have to confiscate them at the gate.”

Arcand, who recently joined Team Redstone after working at Fort Carson in Colorado, said at his previous post, when the installation reinstituted the pre-pandemic procedure, guards encountered a number of people who took advantage of the situation created when guards stopped physically inspecting credentials.

They found people would use photocopies or access cards that didn’t belong to them to gain access to the installation.

“We’re not seeing that here,” he said and added the goal of reinstituting the policy is to secure the installation by using the higher standard that was in place before COVID.

According to Redstone officials, having the ID in the guard’s possession enables a guard to better prevent an individual from attempting to circumvent the turnaround procedures and gain unauthorized access to the post.

Furthermore, should an unauthorized individual access the installation, the guard would have that person’s ID and can pass the information to law enforcement for action. This new procedure also enforces standards by ensuring guards properly compare the information on the access credential to the individual presenting the identification and then to the data presented by the Automated Installation Entry system.

The new policy isn’t intended to supersede or impede motorists using the RFID or Facial Recognition lanes, though, which means, for example, if a driver proceeds through a facial recognition lane and the system recognizes that person, then they’ll be waved through without needing to have the guard physically inspect their access credential.

However, motorists have noticed longer lines, at times, when trying to make their way through the gate.

According to Arcand, this slowdown is a byproduct of the number of drivers who are spending more time engaging with the installation’s gate guards, asking them questions about the new procedure, and not necessarily a result of the mechanics of physically inspecting a person’s Common Access Card or driver’s license.

The commute through the gates should speed up as more people become accustomed to the change, but Arcand said that could take a couple more weeks.