Misawa uses town patrol program to help contain off-base incidents

Officials at Misawa Air Base in northern Japan say they’re reaping benefits from the 35th Fighter Wing commander’s town patrol program.

It’s conducted in the Misawa city area by various squadrons each Friday and Saturday night.

Master Sgt. Lance Guedry, the 35th Security Forces Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of police services, said the patrols give base leaders a chance to carry out welfare checks of U.S. personnel and that they ensure good order and discipline outside the gates.

"It’s important to have command presence in the local community to remind airmen to be good ambassadors, but also to be sure our airmen are safe," Guedry said.

Each week, a different squadron is assigned to town patrol duty. Unit leaders and volunteers hit the downtown area with security forces.

Airmen who take part work to deter misconduct but act in a "non-law enforcement capacity," Guedry said. They are required to be in uniform.

He said the program has been a great tool in containing off-base incidents by Misawa status-of-forces-agreement personnel.

"The biggest benefit of town patrol is that it’s preventive," he said. "Leadership — and when needed, intervention — can prevent situations that have the potential to develop into an actual incident from getting to that point, be it preventing a fight or just recognizing when someone’s had enough fun for the night and needs to go home."

Should a downtown incident occur involving SOFA personnel, Guedry added, the patrol will assist local Japanese authorities if called upon.

He said the group also monitors the area for force-protection vulnerabilities and threats.