Marines expand Okinawa patrols
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The Marine Corps resumed courtesy patrols and expanded its patrol areas Friday, the same night curfew hours were eased a bit for servicemembers on Okinawa.
Marine Corps Bases Japan and III Marine Expeditionary Force will conduct the patrols in the popular night-life districts near military installations on Okinawa, said Marine spokesman 1st Lt. Judd Wilson in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes.
Patrol areas include Henoko, near Camp Schwab; Kin, outside Camp Hansen’s gates; Kadena Gate 2 Street, outside Kadena Air Base; American Village, near camps Foster and Lester; Kitamae, adjacent to Camp Foster; and Futenma, outside Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.
The American Village and Futenma patrols are an expansion of the areas supervised before the “period of reflection” that restricted all SOFA-status personnel to base or off-base residences and the current curfew which was relaxed Friday. It now begins at midnight instead of 10 p.m.
The curfew and a ban on off-base alcohol consumption were enacted following two alleged rapes and other alleged misconduct in February. Though the curfew was eased Friday, the alcohol ban for all servicemembers remains in full effect.
Patrol areas were selected “because they are frequented by U.S. servicemembers on liberty,” Wilson said.
The courtesy patrols, similar to Navy shore patrol without the law enforcement aspect, are intended to deter off-base incidents resulting from misconduct, he said.
The patrols will not “engage in police-type activities,” Wilson said. “If a courtesy patrol encounters a situation that cannot be resolved via verbal instructions, appropriate military law enforcement authorities will be notified.”
The patrols will operate between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. as decided by an area’s camp commander, according to Marine Corps officials, and the size of each patrol will depend on the area responsibility. The teams of three or four servicemembers will include an officer or staff noncommissioned officer and junior enlisted Marines.
The patrols are not part of the proposed joint patrols made up of military and Okinawa prefectural police that is under review by the Okinawa Cooperative Working Team.