MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. --
The Marine Corps began plans to hire approximately 1,200 Civilian Police Officers over the next four years in June to help ease the operational stress on the Corps’ military police and to enhance the Provost Marshals Office capabilities on its U.S. installations. This works out well for the MPs, but how will it impact the lives of Marines here and across the country?
This isn’t the first time the Marine Corps has hired Civilian Police Officers. In 2005, the Corps introduced Civilian Police forces at Blount Island Command in Jacksonville Fla., and on Marine Corps Logistics Bases in Barstow, Calif. and Albany, Ga.
One of the largest benefits to the Air Station and Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island hiring Civilian Police Officers, may be the eventual end of the Fleet Assistance Program, which draws Marines from other units aboard a base to fill in as PMO augments.
“It will help the entire installation,” said Capt. Brent Turner, the deputy provost marshal here. “Right now, the Marines coming from the FAP are typically fresh from their (military occupational specialty) school. We then have to teach them law enforcement in only three weeks and they spend six months outside of their MOS.”
“The (FAP) works because it keeps PMO mission capable, but we’d be better off with the Civilian Police Officers because of the extensive training they will receive and the fact that they will be able to work here for years,” Turner added. “We hope to completely discontinue the (FAP) by fiscal year 2011.”
While PMO here plans to reduce the number of augments, they also plan to increase the overall number of law enforcement personnel available.
“We are not going to lose MPs,” Turner explained. “This will bring our total number of personnel from about 140 to more than 190 PMO by fiscal year 2011.”
The increase in personnel may also allow PMO to alter some of its daily routines.
“Right now, our Marines work a 12-hour shift, plus a one-hour post-brief and a one-hour debrief,” said Master Sgt. Randy Walz, the provost sergeant here. “With all the Civilian Police Officers on board, we could reduce shifts to eight hours. This will increase the quality of life for our Marines, boost morale and will allow sentries to be better rested and more vigilant.”
Another concern that may rise for Marines aboard Fightertown and Parris Island is what these civilians will look like and what kind of uniform they will wear.
“They will be held to similar height, weight and grooming standards as the Marine Corps,” Turner explained. “Their uniforms will be a blue short-sleeved or long-sleeved shirt and blue trousers, similar to what you may see a civilian law enforcement officer wear.”
In the future, the phrase “boys in blue” won’t just apply to the police outside the gate, but to Civilian Police Officers as well. They will be an integral part of PMO that will reduce the need for FAP Marines, boost base security and share the same pride and professionalism as the Marine Corps community that it serves.