569th USFPS at Bad Dürkheim

***image1***569th USFPS lends hand at wine fest

by Monica Mendoza
Kaiserslautern American

It was the world’s biggest wine fest in Bad Dürkheim, and members of the 569th U.S. Forces Police Squadron team were right in the middle of it.

For nearly 30 years American security forces have lent a hand in the security of the wine fest in Bad Dürkheim, where more than 600,000 visitors from around the world drop in for some of Germany’s finest wine.

“The main reason we are there is to prevent large fights and large disturbances and keep it as safe as we possible can,” said Maj. Jeff Carter, 569th USFPS commander.

The fest, formally named the Wurstmarkt, celebrated its 561st year over the weekends of Sept. 7 and Sept. 14. The event included a carnival and 36 wine tents, featured 303 different wines and sparkling wines and 19 bands.

Members of the 569th USFPS team, based on Vogelweh, were invited by German Polizei years ago to help with crowd control. With the Wurstmarkt only 35 kilometers east of Kaiserslautern, a large number of Americans visit the fest each year.

“We are just walking and roving,” Major Carter said. “I worked all Saturday night and there were a number of people who said, ‘Oh, what are you doing here?’ They were surprised to see us.”

***image3***The 569th USFPS team is responsible for everything outside of the fence of Ramstein, with a patrol area the size of Rhode Island. It’s a bit of an obscure mission, but there are 360 military personnel and nearly 50 German Zivil-Polizei officers who work the beat.

For security forces, covering the Bad Dürkheim wine fest is a volunteer assignment. Each weekend of the fest, about a dozen American security forces personnel, joined by ZP – German nationals who contract with American security forces – partnered and patrolled the Bad Dürkheim fest grounds. They are in full uniform and armed.

“Since we have so many U.S. tourists there, we are there for translation purposes and for support,” said Michael Pletsch, Zivil Polizei superintendent. “We were there to show the German counterparts that if they need help or guidance, we are there to help.”

American security forces said their presence helped remind American military members of their community responsibility, they assisted when English speakers needed emergency assistance and they took control of rowdy fest goers when necessary – they can make arrests of Department of Defense ID card holders, Major Carter said.

“Our presence gives the military people the opportunity to interact with someone who is military police,” Major Carter said. “For instance, if there is a lost child, Americans might feel more comfortable talking with American forces in a case where they require assistance. We were pretty busy.”