FORT CARSON, Colo. -The Fort Carson Directorate of Emergency Services, along with Colorado Springs Police Department and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, picked up a military cooperation award Oct. 24 at a law enforcement conference in Orlando, Fla.
The Civilian Law Enforcement Military Cooperation Award, presented by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, was awarded for the cooperation between Fort Carson's DES, Colorado Springs Police Department and the Air Force OSI.
Colorado Springs beat out 14 other civilian and military cooperatives from around the world, including Fort Huachuca, Ariz., and Sierra Vista, Ariz., and Chilean police and the Air Force OSI, according to Jake Jacob, deputy director, DES.
Over the past three years, the Colorado Springs area civilian and military cooperation has grown to include having a liaison in an operations center in the downtown entertainment district and Colorado Springs Police Department providing DES with a monthly roll-up of any incidents happening off post believed to have involved Soldiers, Jacob said.
"What we've been able to do is really build a relationship here. The last three years, we've really spent a great deal of time to formalize relationships, to formalize the partnership and also to train where we can, share resources," he said.
As a result of the cooperation, Fort Carson and Colorado Springs law enforcement personnel have developed a better system for processing Soldiers who may have run-ins with police in the entertainment district, said DES Sgt. Maj. John Ladik.
"Colorado Springs Police Department ... realizes that we may have (post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury) and post-deployment issues while Soldiers go through readjustment. They wanted to find some ways they could mitigate that and get the command involved," he said. "That's why we created the liaison office downtown.
Short of arresting a Soldier, they can bring a Soldier to us without having to bring him all the way back to Fort Carson, and we put him right back into the hands of the commander. Same with the courtesy patrols - let's say they have someone who is borderline drunk and disorderly. They can give him over to (a noncommissioned officer) or an officer."
DES provides as much information as it can to CSPD when a unit is expected it return from deployment.
"The Colorado Springs Police Department, from the chiefs to the lowest officer, wants to do nothing but help our Soldiers," Jacob said. "They are intent on helping the Soldier. The last thing they want to do is arrest a Soldier who just got off the plane from a 12- or 14-month deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan. If they have to, they will. If they don't have to, and they have another option - we've given them options - that's what they want to do. I can't speak highly enough about Chief (Richard) Myers and his crew."
Many of the Colorado Springs police officers have a close tie to the military, said Myers, CSPD chief of police.
"Many of our cops are former military. We respect and admire our Soldiers stationed here," Myers said. "But, we have a job to do, to keep the peace and preserve the quality of life in our community. When accountability is necessary, we're always willing to look for opportunities to collaborate with our military counterparts."
A key factor in the cooperation is the continuity that has resulted from having Department of the Army civilian employees within DES, Ladik said.
"There's no way we could have made this kind of progress without the cooperation we've had from Colorado Springs Police Department. A lot of this is partly because of the relationships that have been built from the continuity that we've gained through having Department of the Army civilian police and ... having the same personalities in place over a period of time," he said. "We (Soldiers) change; every two years we're in and out. But, we've had some continuity now, and that's been a big part of it, too."
That continuity has not gone unnoticed by Myers.
"For our part, we're extremely grateful for the continuity provided by the Department of the Army civilian police augmenting the Military Police from Fort Carson," he said. "It's provided us the opportunity to grow the relationship, share training and other resources, and get our boots on the ground to know their counterparts at Fort Carson."
The success of the cooperation is its own reward, but Jacob said it's nice to have the collaborative efforts of CSPD, DES and OSI.
"It's exciting. It's fantastic to have all of our agencies recognized for the work that we do. (Ladik) and myself didn't get into policing for a pat on the back. You don't get into policing for the glory of it; you get into it because it is something you love and you're passionate about it," he said. "If we can do what we are doing and help Soldiers, it's fantastic to be formally recognized."