MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO --
Contrary to what some servicemembers aboard the depot may think, military polices’ sole purpose on the depot is not to just pull people over.
In fact, their job entails much more, and the installation would be very different without them.
“The depot wouldn’t be safe if there were no barriers or monitored entry control points,” said 1st Lt. Ian M. Johnston, operations officer, Provost Marshal’s Office. “Felons could be mingling among us, people breaking traffic laws and causing accidents, damaging property and hurting other individuals.”
With specialized law enforcement and security operations, PMO maintains an environment of good order and discipline. It’s PMO’s responsibility to ensure the welfare of everyone aboard the installation, Johnston said.
In addition to PMO’s mission of maintaining good order and discipline, law enforcement personnel find ways to diminish issues that arise on the depot.
“We do not just fight the symptoms,” said Johnston. “One of the key things we do is find the source of problems and stop it.”
On the depot, PMO consists of 70 percent Marines and 30 percent civilians, according to Johnston.
“Headquarters Marine Corps wants to maintain a Marine Corps appearance,” said Johnston. “There will always be a little more Marine MP presence than civilian police.”
Not only does PMO control access points by checking for Department of Defense decals and confirming the identity of individuals accessing the base, but they search vehicles, verify licenses, car registration and insurance, and search deliveries with their K-9 dogs, which are specialized in narcotics and explosives.
“There is no point in having a perimeter if we are not avidly protecting it,” said Johnston.
Some of the physical security PMO is responsible for are the fences along the perimeter of the depot and around the armory, alarm systems, barriers and lightning around the depot that aligns with DoD instructions.
There is also an accident aid investigators division, who go through Accident Investigators Course and Accident Reconstruction Course, which helps gather evidence that can reveal how an accident happened.
Many aboard the depot may have seen MPs on bikes. This is their bike patrol, with the advantage of responding to calls faster than a patrol car because they are more agile. In addition, they perform random registration checks. They also can get off their bike, direct traffic and respond to calls for service if they are needed.
PMO’s reach doesn’t end at the depot’s gates. It also extends across the Western Recruiting Region to safeguard Marines.
“I want to make sure they are safe, and assure physical security goes there at least once a year as scheduled,” said Johnston. “And the Criminal Investigative Division will travel to recruiting stations if they are needed to investigate there.”
PMO also coordinates McGruff The Crime dog appearances in the community and talks with children.
As for training, every MP goes though basic instruction at their military occupational specialty school. After that, they have to maintain proficiency through sustainment training when they are not actively working.
“We do a lot of sustainment training focusing on physical security, sex crimes, anti-terrorism, child abuse prevention, special response team, special response marksman/observer and narcotics,” said Johnston. “We also have training on state, federal, and UCMJ laws and articles and on writing reports.”
K-9 handlers train their own dogs and keep the dogs certified, which requires a standard amount of hours. The K-9 handlers are responsible for grooming, feeding, walking patrols and must know how to do basic first aid on their dogs.
Many MPs have various duties like Cpl. Jennifer R. Goodspeed, military police. She conducts patrols, gate guard and works as a desk sergeant. A desk sergeant is the liaison between the operations officer, watch commander, gate sentry, patrol supervisor and units.
“The most exciting thing about this job is that every day different,” said Goodspeed.
It’s a gratifying experience because she is making a difference, even with the smallest things, Goodspeed said. For example, she went with McGruff The Crime Dog, to talk to Girl Scouts about safety.
Very few people don’t see the big picture, which is to protect and serve, she said.
“At the end of the day, I am exhausted,” said Goodspeed. “But in turn, I know it’s a much safer environment.”