WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- For many of the nearly 31,000 Airmen, civilians and contractors who work on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, their day ends late in the afternoon as they exit the installation and begin the journey home.
For them, it’s mission complete. Some may even consider the base “closed” until it’s time to return the next day.
However, units like the 88th Security Forces Squadron do not see it that way. It runs 24/7 operations 365 days a year to ensure the base remains secure and operational.
“We provide force protection for personnel and property throughout the entire installation to include base housing, installation-access control and flightline security,” said Capt. Christopher Foti, 88 SFS operations officer. “We also provide base defense and general law enforcement responses to 911 and other calls for help.”
After the traditional workday ends, Security Forces are able to close some gates, leaving only the two 24-hour access-control points (12A and 19B) open for traffic. That gives leadership the ability to reduce the number of “Defenders” needed or reassign them to other areas.
“What’s unique about the mid-shift is we have a lot less traffic because it’s overnight, which means less of a demand for open gates,” said Master Sgt. Harley Teets, 88 SFS mid-shift flight chief.
He said this decreased demand overnight can be nice during the winter months as that’s when cold fronts tend to move through the area and snow starts falling.
“We still have to make sure the gates remain open and crews can get in to keep the roads clear, so we are able to use the shacks at each gate for relief as they provide heat,” Teets added.
The shacks also provide air conditioning in the summer, and shelter from storms for Airmen manning the gates. Those out on patrol have everything they need in their vehicles.
“Our patrol cars come with the standard spotlight, radars, lights and sirens, as well as the newly installed tablets, which track (locations) and allow us to see things like building numbers quickly,” said Senior Airman Aaron Benner, 88 SFS patrolman. “We also have our bags, which allow us to carry things like helmets, gloves, reflective belts, and cold or wet-weather gear, if needed.”
Unlike the gates, the demand on Security Forces patrols doesn’t lessen overnight, but the types of calls are a little different.
“Patrols respond to more loud-noise complaints, wild animals in backyards and an occasional vehicle accident during the mid-shift,” Teets said. “They also keep quite busy on night shift with alarms, perimeter checks, post checks and flight-level exercises, as well as spending more time patrolling areas like base housing and our concurrent jurisdiction on roads around the base.” Some of the accidents include vehicles running into gates closed overnight.
“It’s important that people pay attention to their surroundings, because they are used to gates being open during the day, and when they try to come on base at night, they run into the closed gates,” Teets said.
In the end, though, whether it be responding to a call for help, manning the 24-hour gates or patrolling base housing, Foti says Security Forces are ready.
“The biggest thing to know is that our Defenders remain vigilant and aware of what’s going on at night,” he said. “Everyone can rest easy knowing that they will remain safe and secure and that we’ve got someone looking out for them.”