Law enforcement initiatives in the Front Range

In a world of limited resources, fiscal constraints and reduced manpower, most every mission in the Air Force is feeling the pressure of doing more with less. Even as the force continually explores ways to reduce non-essential workload, a point is reached were core capabilities are being tested across our enterprise. Security Forces is no different. The baseline Security Forces manning point for stateside bases has been re-established for all non-nuclear installations in the U.S. For the 21st Security Forces Squadron, 85 percent of our authorized manning is the new 100 percent, which translates to doing 100 percent of our mission, staffed with only 85 percent of our authorized personnel. As defenders, we are committed to a “no fail” mission!

Day-to-day operations are seamlessly conducted on Peterson Air Force Base, even as threats increase globally and within the homeland. During periods of increased tension, emerging threats, or localized crises, defenders don’t carry the responsibility of force protection without support. Our support comes internally through our wing’s augmentation program, and is externally buttressed though our vital Public/Private Partnerships (P3) with regional law enforcement agencies, a collaboration which happens every day.

The need to develop and share information, conduct joint training, and provide mutual aid has significantly changed in recent years. Experience - both good and bad - has reinforced the premise that force protection is contingent upon the ability to gather, analyze, and share information regarding those who intend to attack military people and resources, the tactics, techniques, and procedures they use, and the targets they intend to select. Our geographical proximity and shared interests are an inherent asset to Front Range law enforcement units. Colorado Springs Police Department, El Paso and Teller County Sheriff Departments, the FBI, DEA, the Colorado Department of Public Safety and our neighboring military installations are just a few of the vested collaborative partners we rely on. Due to our individual unique DoD missions, resources and personnel, our collaborative effort benefits each agency as we have the same mutual “no fail” mission.

This collaboration happens every day, but is occasionally tested during real-world events. Our own capabilities were successfully tested on a global stage. On June 1, President Barack Obama landed at Peterson AFB, where Security Forces, U.S. Secret Service, and the Colorado Springs Police Department provided our Commander in Chief safe passage throughout the Front Range. The following day, as graduation proceedings at the U.S. Air Force Academy were coming to a close, a Thunderbird F-16 crashed 5 miles south of the Colorado Springs Regional Airport, a crash which occurred as President Obama’s motorcade was moving towards Peterson AFB. Over 20 federal, state, and municipal agencies converged on the crash site, where true collaboration was achieved.

Over the course of six days, agencies at all levels worked diligently to safeguard the community, secure and preserve the scene, and recover a $19 million dollar piece of Air Force equipment. Without our close connection to our law enforcement and emergency management partners, success would have been difficult, if not impossible. This scenario punctuated the importance of Public/Private Partnerships for the 21st Security Forces Squadron, and cemented the need for future collaboration with Front Range law enforcement partners.