SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Air Mobility Command recently released a policy outlining three programs as options installations commanders can consider to enhance the safety and deter threats to AMC personnel.
The programs are the Security Forces Staff Arming, Unit Marshal Program, and Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act.
“The policy is written to give overarching guidance, but allow installation commanders to implement their programs in a way that best fits their individual installation,” said Lt. Col. Shawn Kirkpatrick, AMC’s A4’s Chief of Integrated Defense Operations. “However, the policy doesn’t give the installation commanders authority to grant on-installation concealed carry privileges to personnel with a state issued concealed carry license or permit.”
Each additional arming program is unique and comes with a specific set of regulations. Additionally, each participating AMC installation must have their plans reviewed by AMC A4S-Security Forces Division before implementation.
The Security Forces Staff Arming is an existing program permitting Security Forces to allow security personnel who don’t normally carry weapons, such as personnel performing administrative duties, to be armed while on duty.
“These individuals are already SFS badge wearers, but are performing staff duty or support type work,” Kirkpatrick said. “With Security Forces Staff Arming, these individuals will be armed and can be a more immediate response, particularly in an active shooter scenario.”
Kirkpatrick stressed that individuals armed under this program still follow the same rules and have the same restrictions as on-duty SFS personnel.
“This program gives the SFS commander access to more armed personnel if the situation dictates,” he said.
The Unit Marshal Program is a fairly new program providing commanders with an option to arm select non-security forces members of a unit. Those selected for armed security receive specialized training from SFS.
“Dover was the first base to implement this program,” said Senior Master Sgt. Brent Sanders, AMC A4 Integrated Defense Operations Manager. “With this program, a unit commander determines, based on a variety of factors, the need for armed security. For example, a commander may determine that areas with easy accessibility to a large outside customer base or a perceived threat to its personnel and customers, may require an armed presence to deter threats.”
Both Kirkpatrick and Sanders emphasized that UMP Airmen are not first-responders.
“UMPs are strictly there for security,” Kirkpatrick said. “They are not law enforcement, they aren’t first responders, they aren’t part of a response force, and they can’t leave their designated area to respond to other areas. UMPs are there to protect their specific, dedicated area.”
The Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act, or LEOSA, allows all categories of LEOSA-credentialed personnel — current, separated and retired law enforcement officers — to carry their concealed privately-owned firearm on base if the installation commander authorizes the program.
“This program allows credentialed individuals to carry concealed weapons into federal facilities that the installation commander has control over, unless the building falls under another jurisdiction or the tenant opts out,” Kirkpatrick said. “For example, the installation commander here at Scott can’t authorize individuals to carry concealed weapons into the post office because that location falls under another federal jurisdiction.”
Both Kirkpatrick and Sanders stated there are strong opinions on both sides of the issue, but the important part is recognizing the need to better protect the Air Force’s most precious resource - its people.
Kirkpatrick explained that in an active shooter scenario, the event is typically over before law enforcement arrives.
“The recent policies and programs were born out of the Chattanooga, Tennessee, attacks in 2015, as well as DoD’s efforts to make our installations and our people safer,” he said. “These programs allow us to have more armed and readily accessible people available to help protect themselves and people in the immediate area.”