20th SFS leaders host town hall for Shaw residents

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Anthony Wolfe, 20th Security Forces Squadron operations superintendent, speaks to Team Shaw members during a base housing resident town hall at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Sept. 7, 2017. Wolfe spoke about increased patrols in the housing area, precautions families can take to deter criminals and the proper reporting of incidents on base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Anthony Wolfe, 20th Security Forces Squadron operations superintendent, speaks to Team Shaw members during a base housing resident town hall at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Sept. 7, 2017. Wolfe spoke about increased patrols in the housing area, precautions families can take to deter criminals and the proper reporting of incidents on base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

Lt. Tony Rivers, Sumter Police Department community services unit officer, speaks to Team Shaw members about the Neighborhood Watch Program during a base housing resident town hall at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Sept. 7, 2017. The town hall was held to address concerns regarding housing security and recent incidents in the area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

Lt. Tony Rivers, Sumter Police Department community services unit officer, speaks to Team Shaw members about the Neighborhood Watch Program during a base housing resident town hall at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Sept. 7, 2017. The town hall was held to address concerns regarding housing security and recent incidents in the area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Leaders from the 20th Security Forces Squadron hosted a town hall for base housing residents, Sept. 7.

During the meeting, 20th SFS Airmen and a Sumter Police Department representative addressed concerns regarding housing security and other issues involving housing and personal property.

“We truly believe these are young adults, juveniles, and we truly believe they reside on the installation somewhere in housing,” said Robert Healy, 20th SFS chief investigator, about the individual or individuals involved in the occurrences.

Healy also said the patterned behavior indicated the culprit(s) was inexperienced, as a skilled, experienced criminal likely would execute the crime in a more “professional” manner.

Break-ins and criminal activity on base are things that unfortunately happen from time to time and are not a result of any recent changes in security forces posture or activity, added Healy.

Defenders will continue to conduct random ID checks to ensure the housing area is only accessed by authorized individuals, said Senior Master Sgt. Anthony Wolfe, 20th SFS operations superintendent. Leaders are also considering the possibility of installing an entry control point in the area to be utilized during the hours the school gates are open, although no unauthorized people have been found attempting to enter the housing area other than when the school gates were first put into use during the 2016 school year.

Wolfe also told residents increased patrols, both uniformed and plainclothes, have been established in response to adverse activity in the area.

In an effort to stem recent criminal activity, 20th SFS Airmen have partnered with the 20th Civil Engineer Squadron to place a permanent patrol operating out of the satellite fire station in north housing. Defenders have also increased vehicle presence patrols, traffic enforcement, walking patrols, including military working dog patrols, and the frequency of traffic control points to verify credentials.

Proposed future projects and programs were also announced during the meeting, including bike patrol and community policing programs. The implementation of a bike patrol program in north housing will provide a more visible police presence in the area and allow for better community engagement. The community policing programs would be dedicated to community engagement and education.

To decrease the likelihood of incidents, residents in attendance were asked for their assistance.

“To solve this community problem, we need the community involved,” said Healy. “We do care and we want to help, but we can’t do it alone.”

Residents were asked to help law enforcement by holding others accountable for their actions, such as when individuals drive over the posted speed limit, or by reporting information quickly to the Base Defense Operations Center by calling 803-895-3669, so defenders could respond.

Timely reporting is key, said Wolfe. When a report is made, helpful information includes the size of the person or equipment, activity details, location of event, uniform or clothing worn, time of occurrence and type of equipment or vehicle being used.

Speakers also provided tips to deter or prevent thieves including not placing hidden keys around the residence, securing all doors and windows, not leaving garage doors open, finding a trusted neighbor to keep an eye on the residence, ensuring vehicles are secured, and not leaving valuables in vehicles.

“Thefts are crimes of opportunity,” said Lt. Tony Rivers, Sumter PD community services unit officer. “That doesn’t change whether you’re at Shaw Air Force Base or downtown Sumter. … Most of the time, people will not break doors to get into a locked car.”

To provide more proactive approaches, Rivers spoke about the possibility of a Neighborhood Watch Program for Shaw residents to share information with law enforcement.

“Our primary goal is to build relationships in the community,” said Rivers. “Another primary role we have is public information and education.”

Those interested in participating in the program may contact Senior Airman Michaela Davis, 20th SFS polices services controller, at 803-895-3654 for more information.

Amanda Winter, Team Shaw spouse, said she gained a lot of information from the town hall and appreciated the opportunity to share concerns.

“It’s my community,” said Winter. “I’m not going to just sit at home and complain. … We need more action, more voices and more people in the community. There needs to be action behind that voice.”

Individuals may report suspicious activities or nonemergency situations to the BDOC at 803-895-3669. For emergencies, contact 911.

Below is a listing of questions presented during the town hall and the answers provided.

Question 1: Speeding has been noticed in base housing. How can this be addressed?

Answer 1: Repeat offenders will be reported to commanders and first sergeants. Residents should report repeat offenders by providing driver descriptions, license plate numbers, and vehicle make and model to BDOC.

Question 2: Can this concern be addressed with speed bumps?

Answer 2: The recommendation can be made to Shaw Family Housing, as they own the property, but the decision would be made by them.

Question 3: What is the law on defending yourself with a gun when a person illegally enters a home?

Answer 3: First, any gun kept on base must be registered with 20th SFS. In this situation, a person should call 911 immediately, but should do whatever is necessary to protect their own life or the life of someone else, up to and including deadly force. However, this is not always the best option.

Question 4: Is there a possibility of a teen safety patrol to help teens learn to respect the area and those they live around?

Answer 4: The idea has been noted and will be looked into as part of the community policing program.

Question 5: What can be done to hold individuals involved in illegal or disrespectful incidents in housing accountable?

Answer 5: The punishment could vary but can include the individual or family being barred from base. The ultimate goal is to stop this activity on base.

Question 6: Can individuals with a concealed weapon permit carry on base?

Answer 6: This concern was discussed by 20th SFS personnel and the installation commander who, after consideration, has chosen not to allow concealed carry of weapons on base. If a situation arises to where an individual chooses to use their weapon on base for defense and defenders arrive on scene, it may be difficult for them to know who the good or bad guys are.