Game day not just for athletes:10th SFS secures stadium for thousands of Falcon sports fans

  • Published
  • By Amber Baillie
  • Academy Spirit staff writer
On Saturdays in the fall, close to 30,000 fans fill Falcon Stadium for Air Force Academy football games, swarming through the gates in blue and silver attire, tailgating with spirit in the venue's parking lot, purchasing savory concessions and scattering through the stands to grab their seats before kickoff.

Amidst the festive atmosphere however, are dozens of watchful 10th Security Forces Squadron Airmen who arrived seven hours before the game to secure the stadium, direct traffic and observe every individual arriving on base so Academy sports fans can safely enjoy the game.

"More than 40,000 people attended the Notre Dame game (Oct. 26)," said Senior Airman Jeremy Baker, a 10th SFS Police Services. "The number is daunting. Our biggest concern is an active shooter situation, so we have 60-70 Airmen from our unit who work every home game."

Before each game, military working dogs and Front Range civilian law enforcement sweep the stadium for suspicious material.

"During the game (the military working dogs) are also used for their presence and ability to detect," Baker said.

Security procedures for the football games start at the north and south gate, Baker said.
"Airmen at the gates carefully observe each vehicle," he said. "We also restrict access to certain areas on base to enhance security, allowing cars to go only so far west."

Santa Fe Protective Services (wearing yellow jackets) direct parking and collect game tickets at the stadium gates. They also look for unauthorized items fans can't bring into the stadium such as open water bottles, alcohol and contraband, among others.

"We watch over the yellow jackets in case they need any assistance," Baker said. "We wouldn't have enough manpower from our unit to check each person's bag. Once people are in the stadium, we walk around and become a visible presence, often helping parents find their lost child or dealing with drunk and disorderly individuals."
Cadet ushers also help provide security, said Master Sgt. Karaimai Knight, 10th SFS Operations Support superintendent.

"Before, we didn't really have cadet security, just local police and Santa Fe guards," Knight said. "Now every section has a cadet usher to help people find their seats and cadet security deals with all cadet-related issues."

Cadets also screen people with metal detector wands, Baker said.

"They get to see what we go through," he said. "I think it gives them more of a respect for the operational Air Force. It also teaches them to deal with unruly people such as people who don't want to get scanned."

Following the game, security forces Airmen sweep the stands to make sure unattended items or bags are not left behind, Baker said.

"We'll sweep the stands and the bathrooms to make sure no one is still there - in case someone slipped and hit their head," he said.

The 10th SFS protects 4,000 future Air Force leaders and Academy staff here every day by checking IDs, conducting background checks and enforcing speed limits.

"Working the football games is just another way we help keep the installation safe," Baker said. "There is a lot of camaraderie that comes with this job and we have a high level of respect for each other because we see how much this career field requires of you."

Knight said the 10th SFS has a bigger mission than just checking ID cards.

"For those who think we're a nuisance, remember that this is a unique base because we're not just dealing with military personnel," he said. "We're dealing with the outside community every day, all day long. We're similar to civilian law enforcement because we don't know who is going to come through our gate. Our main focus here is mission protection, keeping our cadets, residents and personnel safe at all times."

10th SFS Airmen will arrive at Falcon Stadium around 3 a.m. for Saturday's game against Army.

"We put in about 12 hours for each game," Baker said. "We have at least seven games this season. People here can help us by keeping an eye out for suspicious individuals or activity on base and reporting it to us. It enhances our force."