Brothers in arms: 10th SFS, civil law enforcement agencies partner to protect community

  • Published
  • By Ray Bowden
  • Academy Spirit editor
You're heading north on I-25 and just as you drive under the North Academy Boulevard overpass, you see the flashing lights of a patrol car parked near a major traffic accident.
As you pass that patrol car, you see the logo on the door: "Security Forces."

You also notice that the "officer" aiding an injured driver is wearing a blue-tinged Airman Battle Uniform.

"How could this be?" You think. "Have we declared martial law?"

Not quite. Just as the 10th Security Forces Squadron here shares jurisdiction of the U.S. Air Force Academy with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, they also have an agreement with the Colorado State Patrol to provide assistance to incidents that occur on the stretch of I-25 between North Academy Boulevard and North Gate Boulevard. The squadron also has an agreement with the Colorado Springs Police Department to provide military working dog support, assist in large-scale events and take part in training just about anywhere else in the city, including the airport.

This ongoing partnership with local law enforcement agencies is one of the many ways the men and women of the 10th Security Forces Squadron team-up with their civilian counterparts to serve and protect their community, said 10th SFS commander Maj. Jose Lebron.

"This squadron has a long history of partnership with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, the Colorado Springs Police Department, and numerous other federal law enforcement agencies, including the Joint Terrorism Task Force," Lebron said.

David Husted has been a CSPD officer for 21 years. He's also an Individual Mobilization Augmentee master sergeant assigned to the 10th SFS. An IMA is a reservist assigned to an active-duty organization.

"We had a report of a suspicious individual in that abandoned hotel (near Federal Drive and Interquest Parkway) and (the 10th SFS) responded to assist us out," Husted said. "I've seen them work crime scenes and protect evidence -- we might do more of this, but they have the knowledge and training to do what we do in most cases. Whether it's a traffic stop, a DUI, a violent domestic (response) or etc., they're extremely professional."

Just as 10th SFS Airmen are called to assist local law enforcement agencies, this partnership extends both ways, with the CSPD and EPSO sometimes assisting with major traffic accidents on base, Falcon Stadium security, policing Air Academy High and joining their military counterparts for training sessions, said Chief Master Sgt. Todd Simmons, the 10th SFS manager and the squadron's senior-enlisted Airman.

"Our relationship is a force multiplier," Simmons said. "We're deeply intertwined and always ready to give additional support to the city and the county, and they're definitely ready to give us additional support. The cooperation is the best I've ever seen. We can call anyone and we match a name with the face on the phone."

This assistance extends to assisting civilian law enforcement officers respond to bomb threats in Colorado Springs.

"Five years ago there was a bomb threat at the airport - the entire airport had to be searched so we called the Academy and the other bases to assist," said CSPD Sgt. Matt Harrell, who is the department's airport unit sergeant and supervises three bomb-dog teams there. "We were able to effectively search and cover all areas that needed to be covered."

10th SFS Airmen also responded to a recent bomb threat at a local WalMart, said Lt. Jeff Kramer, an El Paso County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer.

"There are a lot of occasions - day to day operations - when we're dispatched to the Academy and the Academy helps us out," he said. "One incident in particular I recall was when the Academy helped us capture a fugitive in the area of I-25 and Baptist."

The organizations routinely train together and local law enforcement has played a part in several Academy exercises, including last year's active-shooter exercise, which was the largest exercise of this type across the Defense Department so far, said Senior Master Sgt. Shadd McKee, the 10th SFS operations superintendent.

Husted said the CSPD and the SFS have also shared equipment.

"They're trained under state guidance on the Intoxilyzer - a breath alcohol testing instrument -- so we can swap equipment if need be," he said.

And the 10 SFS Military Working Dog section helped train Harrell's K-9 teams.
"They're more than willing to share their resources," he said. "Early on in our program, we had three new handlers and three new dogs and we were struggling away on our own. We reached out to the Academy's expertise for training. We owe a lot of our success to the 10th Security Forces Squadron for helping us out."

Harrell's team routinely assists the 10th SFS secure Falcon Stadium for sport events, he said.

"We help out during football games and have used our K-9 teams to sweep the stadium and the man checkpoints," Harrell said. "What we get out if this is the ability to train at different venues."

Harrell has also called the 10th SFS to help out when his officers need time off.
"This gives my guys an opportunity to take a vacation," he said. "The 10th SFS is a resource that helps us ensures security for the airport. Being able to reach out for assistance with on-call responsibilities helps us provide security for hundreds of airports customers and staff on a daily basis.

Senior leaders from all local law enforcement agencies meet once a month.
"Every month, we have our Police Collaborative Meeting," Lebron said. "Every military installation in Colorado Springs is represented, including JTTF. We all sit down and share information and talk about our main concerns and issues as they relate to law enforcement."

By all accounts, this partnership will continue.

"The relationship with the Academy and the 10th Security Forces Squadron in particular is strong and long-lasting," Kramer said. "Some of this is grounded in various Memorandum of Agreements we have, but on a personal level, our bond is strong."