By Story and photos by Sgt. Philip KleinJanuary 12, 2010
FORT CARSON, Colo. - Senior enlisted Soldiers of "The Mountain Post Team" gathered at the Alternate Escapes recreational facility Sept. 18, to discuss trends for criminal and gang activity along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.
The monthly forum for Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development addressed criminal activity in Colorado Springs, gang activity and alternatives available to Fort Carson Soldiers.
"Soldiers here at Fort Carson make up a substantial portion of the overall population in Colorado Springs," said the 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel A. Dailey.
With the continued growth and expansion of personnel and facilities on Fort Carson, it is important for leaders to be aware of the risks Soldiers face and the charge NCOs carry for the welfare of their troops and Families, explained Dailey.
Representatives from the Colorado Springs Police Department, the Colorado Springs Commit Anti-Gang Task Force, and the Fort Carson Military Police Investigation unit led the discussion speaking with the enlisted leaders during the two-hour presentation.
Dailey said that the opportunity to have guest speakers from Colorado Springs law enforcement provided Mountain Post leaders valuable situational awareness.
Commander Kurt Pillard of the Colorado Springs Police Department briefed the NCOs on the downtown area, particularly on the high rate of crime in the entertainment district.
"We have almost the same number of criminal complaints during the nine hours the area is active as we do the rest of the time in this area," said Pillard.
"The number one issue on a daily basis is assault and theft," he continued. "Criminals watch individuals enter specific establishments. They will then use that opportunity to break a vehicle's window to steal property, or commit assault when the potential victim returns."
Pillard stated that Soldiers are attractive targets because they are easily identified through military installation vehicle decals, distinctive haircuts and clothing bearing unit affiliations.
Soldiers are also paid regularly which makes them tempting to criminals, he added.
Law enforcement representatives also briefed the senior NCOs on organized gang and extremist group activity prevalent in the Colorado Springs area.
Soldiers are targets for gang members because of the perception that servicemembers have access to weapons, ammunition and personal protective equipment, explained Pillard.
The Colorado Springs Commit team is a 14-person unit specialized in identifying street gang activity in Colorado Springs. Their primary focus is to investigate violent crime patterns and street gang activity, and monitor and protect sites suspected of gang activity.
The team works directly with educational institutions, community groups, schools, private businesses and organizations, military installations, neighborhood watch groups, and faith-based organizations to combat the estimated 500 active gangs and extremist groups in the Colorado Springs area.
Detective Rene Ortega, a criminal investigator with the Fort Carson Military Police Investigation unit said that gang affiliation is also an area of concern on post.
Ortega said leaders should be cognizant of warning signs that include tattoos, distinctive art work and pamphlets from gang or extremist groups. Certain music CDs and DVDs can also provide signs of unauthorized activity.
The Fort Carson MPI team is available to assist leaders with health and welfare inspections to help indentify Soldiers who are at risk, said Ortega.
Commanders have the responsibility and authority under Army Regulation 600-20 Army Command Policy, to declare questionable places and activities off limits to Soldiers, said Ortega.
Military leaders may remove any material deemed offensive and discipline Soldiers who disobey a direct order under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, she added.
At the conclusion of the NCOPD, Dailey presented the law enforcement professionals with 4th Inf. Div. Coins and Certificates of Appreciation on behalf of the 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson Commanding General Maj. Gen. David G. Perkins.
Dailey also challenged the senior NCOs present to engage their commands to help make Fort Carson a better installation for Soldiers and Families.
"Our job on this installation is to take care of Soldiers," Dailey said. "There are things we can do to help prevent this criminal activity so we can focus on the fight."