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Camp Foster staff noncommissioned officers walk Kitamae Street from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights as part of a courtesy patrol program to provide a leadership presence during off-duty hours, said Col. Russ Jones, Headquarters and Service Battalion commander.

Camp Foster staff noncommissioned officers walk Kitamae Street from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights as part of a courtesy patrol program to provide a leadership presence during off-duty hours, said Col. Russ Jones, Headquarters and Service Battalion commander. (Cindy Fisher / S&S)

Camp Foster staff noncommissioned officers walk Kitamae Street from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights as part of a courtesy patrol program to provide a leadership presence during off-duty hours, said Col. Russ Jones, Headquarters and Service Battalion commander.

Camp Foster staff noncommissioned officers walk Kitamae Street from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights as part of a courtesy patrol program to provide a leadership presence during off-duty hours, said Col. Russ Jones, Headquarters and Service Battalion commander. (Cindy Fisher / S&S)

Camp Foster staff noncommissioned officers walk Kitamae Street from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights as part of a courtesy patrol program to provide a leadership presence during off-duty hours, said Col. Russ Jones, Headquarters and Service Battalion commander.

Camp Foster staff noncommissioned officers walk Kitamae Street from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights as part of a courtesy patrol program to provide a leadership presence during off-duty hours, said Col. Russ Jones, Headquarters and Service Battalion commander. (Cindy Fisher / S&S)

Every Friday and Saturday night from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., two staff noncommissioned officers clad in conservative civilian attire stroll the Kitamea Street outside Camp Foster’s Gate 2 in the name of courtesy.

The “courtesy patrol,” established in 1997, is a command program in which Camp Foster units provide members to watch for problems during off-duty hours, said Col. Russ Jones, Camp Foster’s Headquarters and Service Battalion commander.

“We identify issues (and) talk to the owners of the establishments to see if there are any concerns,” he said.

It’s reminiscent of shore patrol, but without the law enforcement, he said.

“We’re not there as a police force,” he said.

The courtesy patrol isn’t authorized to check military identification cards and is instructed to contact Japanese police in serious situations, Jones said.

The patrols have the added benefit of sending a “positive message to our Okinawa hosts on our commitment to maintaining the standards of conduct expected of the military,” said the battalion’s Sgt. Maj. William F. Fitzgerald.

The idea is to resolve situations before they become an issue, Fitzgerald said.

During his time as commander, Jones said, he’s had no incidents with the courtesy patrol and no problems on Kitamea Street.

Friday- and Saturday-night sobriety checkpoints at all Camp Foster and Lester outbound gates have helped curb off-base incidents, he said.

Driving under the influence is a big concern, he said, especially in light of the deaths of two Kadena Air Base soldiers involved in a car crash.

“In the last 12 months where we’ve had sobriety checks, incidents are down,” he said. “No one has left Foster and then gotten in trouble.”

Jones said further proof of the command’s intolerance of drunken driving is a policy that if Marines or sailors get any kind of citation for such an offense, they lose their driving privileges for the rest of their tour on Okinawa.

Bar managers give patrols mixed reviews on security

At least one of Kitamae Street’s bar managers say there isn’t much courtesy in courtesy patrols, while another says she appreciates the security they provide.

“I have run into the courtesy patrol a few times,” said B.K. Price, who runs three establishments along Kitamae that are owned by his Okinawan wife.

The patrol doesn’t always follow its own orders, he said.

According to Camp Bulletin 1602, which outlines the program, patrol members aren’t supposed to harass military members or check identification and liberty cards inside establishments.

But after a change in the Marines’ liberty policy, staff noncommissioned officers “were in my club asking people for their ID cards and liberty cards,” he said.

Other bar owners feel like the courtesy patrols are very useful.

Hatsuko Moya, owner of the China Sea, said the courtesy patrol gives her a sense of security.

She remembered a situation outside her bar when the courtesy patrol was right where they needed to be.

“There was this man who kicked and broke a fan when he was leaving the bar,” she said.

Once he went outside, a patrol member chased after him, caught him and admonished him, Moya said.

“She was very fast, and the way she responded it was amazing,” she said. “The courtesy patrol makes our life here easier.”

But not necessarily for Price, a former Marine, who says he has bumped heads with both Marine Corps and Air Force officials in recent years.

He even posted a sign, “Courtesy Patrol may not enter this club,” at the entrance to Nashville, a bar located outside Camp Foster’s Gate 2 that he runs.

However, Price did say he felt the patrol could be useful. He said his establishments are nearly always “really mellow,” but the few times he’s had problems the patrol wasn’t there to help.

“I think if they came at the right times it would be better,” he said, suggesting that a hotline be set up so owners could call if they needed assistance.


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