Straight Talk: Gate expectations

  • Published
  • By Col. Stacy L. Yike
  • 66th Air Base Group commander
This week's topic covers some questions I have received about operations at our Hanscom gates.

The installation gates are our first line of defense against threats to the mission and the base populace. Therefore, it is vital to ensure every vehicle entering the installation is safe. I am sure most of you would agree with that philosophy, but when you are sitting six to 10 cars back in line you may be a bit less patient with the whole concept. This article describes what you can expect to see at the gates and offers some guidelines to make your process as smooth as possible.

First, I would like to give my thanks to our outstanding security forces team who man our gates 24/7, eight to 12 hours each shift, standing in good weather and bad, on duty days and holidays. Some are quite young, some a little less so, and each one is tasked with providing professional and courteous service at the gate, as well as maintaining the first line of defense for the safety of our base. This is a tough balance for sure!

Safety is my primary concern--always. The guards must verify the legitimacy of base credentials and ensure all installation entry requirements are met. Additionally, we regularly conduct random anti-terrorism measures which may involve dual ID checks or vehicle inspections. I know this causes some delays, and I would not do it if I thought it was ineffective in safeguarding our base. Additionally, we sometimes close the gates for security reasons such as a missing child or alarms. The potential of a serious crime in progress far outweighs the inconvenience to our patrons entering and exiting at that moment.

Why are there so many guards at the gate but only one checking IDs? Why is the guard chatting with that person in front of me? Why did someone bring the guard donuts and coffee? Your comments allowed security forces to identify process changes to react more quickly to unexpected traffic at the gates. I hope you have seen the improvement.

We will always have two guards at the gate to maintain proper security, but other defenders may be present for a variety of reasons. Just because they are at the gate doesn't mean they should be checking IDs. Are they chatting? It's very likely that person just asked a question and the guard is providing information. Why is someone bringing the guards coffee? Well, sometimes people just like to do something nice for the folks standing out there all day and the team is usually appreciative. It is not that different than someone bringing you coffee at your office.

What can you do to help? When you approach the gate, the following actions will help prevent delays:

- Have your identification card out and ready with a second form of ID nearby
- Approach at low speed and make a complete stop (please don't hit the barriers)
- Turn your radio down or off
- Turn off windshield wipers (these spray water and dirt on the guards)
- Roll your window all the way down
- If you have a question, please be cognizant of the traffic behind you

Our installation gate procedures are vital to ensure a safe environment for you, your family and the mission. Gate guards provide a vital component to that security. Our defenders know that they provide the first and the most visible face of Hanscom each and every day, and I am very proud of their work.

I would also like to thank you for your efforts to ensure the safety of Hanscom not just at the gates, but in your OPSEC, your computer security and your daily practice of safe decisions. Your actions make the difference to Hanscom being the place it is today. Thank you.