New schedule tames rowdy riders at Camp Humphreys
PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — Recent steps to curb fistfights and other rowdiness aboard buses at Camp Humphreys appear to be taking hold, officials said.
Several instances of misconduct aboard the buses led post officials in early December to knock two hours off the weekend bus service. Bus service had run on Friday and Saturday nights until 2 a.m.; it now ends at midnight.
No statistics were immediately available on the number of incidents before and since the change of hours, but officials have noticed a drop in disorderly behavior, said Alan Feistner, deputy to the Area III Support Activity commander at Camp Humphreys.
“We’ve not had as many incidents as we had before,” said Feistner.
The episodes sparked fear among soldiers and family members, officials said.
“There was some fear of riding the bus, so parents were complaining that their kids felt intimidated,” Feistner said. “In a couple of cases, soldiers got beat up pretty bad, and they wanted to make sure that we stop that.”
The number of soldiers involved in fights and other incidents had been only a handful, said Col. Michael J. Taliento Jr., Area III commander.
However, he said, “It doesn’t matter if it’s one. If one person puts people in an environment where people feel they’re not safe, you create” problems for the community.
“The late-night buses were becoming unsafe,” he said.
The same applies off post, where servicemember misconduct can give the U.S. military a bad image and create problems with the South Korean public, Taliento added.
Before the December change, soldiers heading in from a night in the local bar district or elsewhere could catch buses inside the main gate for a ride to their living areas.
But soldiers who want to catch the last bus must now return to post by midnight or walk, Taliento said.
Taliento plans to set up a program under which Area III unit commanders would regularly go to areas where troops are known to congregate. Such an effort, he said, “hopefully mitigates” disruptive and unsafe conduct, especially among troops who have had too much to drink.
Although some commanders and unit leaders visit off-post areas to ensure troops are safe and behaving, Taliento said, he wants to establish coverage on a comprehensive, coordinated basis.
The locations they check on could well include on-post spots too, said Area III Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Frace.
And, said Feistner, it might also include unit leaders riding the buses.