Getting up at 3:30 a.m. for work every morning and not getting home until well after 6 p.m. might seem overwhelming to most, but for the 569th U.S. Forces Police Squadron it is one of the many daily routines to ensure the safety of those in the KMC.
Unlike any other unit in the Air Force, the 569th USFPS operates in conjunction with not only German Zivil Police and German Polezei, but also the U.S. Army.
Traffic investigations, criminal investigations, DUI enforcement, town patrol and installation entry operations take up the majority of a typical shift.
“While we do perform traditional security forces functions in securing assets, we spend a great deal of time performing law-enforcement-centric functions,” said Capt. Justin Secrest, 569th USFPS operations officer. “Our area of responsibility is roughly the size of Rhode Island, ranging from Frankfurt to the French border and from Pirmasens (to) Baumholder.”
The 569th USFPS has a daunting responsibility of covering such a big area, but it is a necessary one.
“There are 53,000 Americans who live here,” Captain Secrest said. “The Polezei is not manned for those extra folks. Without our support, the security in the area would not be as good.”
With the heavy workload, some squadrons might not excel, but this is not the case with the 569th USFPS, who not only was named as U.S. Air Forces in Europe’s Outstanding Large Security Forces Unit for 2008, but also received recognition as a 2008 Commander and Chief’s Installation Excellence Award in the special recognition category.
“I have been in 21 years, and this is the best unit I have ever been in,” said Captain Secrest, who is prior enlisted. “From flight chief to the lowest ranking Airmen, this is the best team I have ever seen.”
Also, during a recent USAFE Inspector General unit compliance inspection, the Guardian Eagles received a rating of outstanding.
“It is easy to describe what I think of our Airmen here: phenomenal,” said Captain Secrest. “The reason all the awards happened is because of Airmen and (non-commissioned officers).”
The Airmen of the 569th USFPS work well together, but they also spend off time together, and it shows in their work.
“Security Forces has a sense of team mentality,” said Staff Sgt. Corey Strother, 569th USFPS patrolman. “I think it comes from tech school when we had to eat, sleep and spend all of our time together. Cops hang out with cops, and I think it transcends into our working environment – it makes it better.”
While there are many aspects of security forces, it is the people interaction that is the preferred.
“My favorite part of the job is working with the public,” said Senior Airman Stephan Lowe, 569th USFPS patrolman. “During the holidays, especially, people bring all sorts of food and gifts to give to us when we are working. It is just nice to know we are appreciated.”
There are a number of things that may come to mind when someone thinks about a member of security forces, but there is one thing that the 569th USFPS would like to add to that list.
“The thing that people (need to) realize about our squadron is the selfless people that work here,” Airman Lowe said. “The men and women work 16 hours days and then on their one day off, they unselfishly volunteer at places such as the Fisher House and with the wounded warriors.”
From the long days to the volunteer work, the 569th USFPS works hard in whatever they do.
“Pat that person on the back at the gate,” Captain Secrest said. “When they are asking you to do something, remember they are asking you because it is their job, and their job is to keep 53,000 people safe. Just remember to thank them when you can, because it is not an easy job.”