By Staff Sgt. Michael J. Taylor, 21st TSC Public AffairsDecember 13, 2010
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany - Executing the mission and taking care of Soldiers are two key tasks for all Army leaders. These tasks come with much responsibility and can be very hard to balance. But day after day leaders throughout the Army continue to work hard to make sure the Army's missions get accomplished and the Soldiers are taken care of.
In an effort to take care of Soldiers and show them that their leadership really cares, on and off duty, the command team from the 21st Theater Sustainment Command recently initiated a program called courtesy patrol.
The program was started to assist Soldiers and help create a better environment by ensuring Soldiers don't drink and drive and avoid altercations while out and about, enjoying their time off during the evenings.
"The courtesy patrol is a way to mitigate crimes in the community, help and assist Soldiers, and show the Soldiers that the leadership actually does care," said Command Sgt. Maj. James E. Spencer, the command sergeant major of the 21st TSC. "We are out there as engaged leaders, not law enforcement or anything like that. We are not out there to discipline Soldiers."
The courtesy patrol consists of several teams made up of noncommissioned officers and officers. Each team is assigned a different zone in Kaiserslautern where they patrol the numerous establishments in the late evenings and early mornings on weekends.
During their patrols, the teams ask Soldiers if they have a battle buddy, have they been drinking, have a plan to get home and if they need any assistance.
The courtesy patrols also try to assist with any confrontations they encounter that involve Soldiers and defuse those situations before they escalate and become serious.
"We want the Soldiers to have fun. We just don't want anyone to get in a vehicle and drive drunk, and we want to try to mitigate any conflicts before they happen," said Sgt. 1st Class Chgward A. Williams, the 21st TSC property management office noncommissioned officer in charge.
The program was started several months ago with all the sergeants major from the 21st TSC conducting the courtesy patrols. Once the initial introduction of the program was established with the Soldiers out there and the community was aware, master sergeants and sergeants first class were incorporated until eventually all noncommissioned officers and junior officers were added.
"We started with the sergeants major because we wanted to teach people first and then work our way down the ranks," said Spencer. "We also wanted to condition the population and the local community to understand how to deal with us. We wanted to show them why we are there and the benefits of our presence."
In the last three or four months, the courtesy patrol has documented more than 60 incidents where they have intercepted, helped and assisted Soldiers in getting home safely by ensuring they are traveling with a designated driver, helping them catch a cab or providing them with a ride home.
According to military investigators, since the program began they have seen a decrease in Soldiers driving under the influence of alcohol as well as assaults and other incidents.
"We have been getting a lot of support from leaders, Soldiers and vendors or owners of establishments throughout the community," said Williams. "The Soldiers have expressed their appreciation of the courtesy patrol being out there and assisting them."
"We have heard nothing but good things from the vendors and owners. They actually welcome us because they know that their establishment doesn't get broken up by fights, and there are less DUIs coming out of their facilities," said Spencer. "The fact that they are welcoming us as an alternative means for keeping the peace means we are making a difference."
According to Spencer, the 21st TSC command team plans to continue the program and to take this program model and spread it throughout the entire 21st TSC footprint.
"Understanding the environment in which your Soldiers are in is a good thing for leaders, and conversely it works for the Soldiers as well," said Spencer. "If a Soldier sees their leaders out and about, they actually understand that the leaders really care."
"We are noncommissioned officers, we are officers, we are leaders and we are leaders 24-7," said Williams. "If it takes for us to go out and assist the Soldiers then we will do that just to show them that we are here for them and that we care."
Leadership engagement is the only way we are going to mitigate all the challenges we are having across our formations and the courtesy patrol is just one way of doing that, said Spencer.