Joint foot patrols walk the downtown beat

by Sheri Byrd
Contract writer

***image2******image1***A new program in the KMC is combining the law enforcement resources of U.S. Air Force security forces, local German police and the City of Kaiserslautern Department for Public Order.
Visitors to the “pub zone” in the downtown Kaiserslautern pedestrian area will see the five- or six-man teams patrolling the area on foot.
“They are out from around 11 p.m. to 3 or 4 in the morning,” said Capt. Barry Nichols, 569th U.S. Forces Police Squadron assistant operations officer.
The first patrols hit the streets Aug. 6 and 7, with little to report.
The job of the joint patrols is to walk around to various bars and clubs, observing situations and security. They act as a visual deterrent to trouble and are on the spot to take care of any situations that may arise.
The city Department of Public Order sends a patrolman in case a bar or other establishment is found to be operating outside city ordinances.
“These are the guys who can shut down a bar just like that,” Captain Nichols said.
Until now, the downtown weekend foot patrols were only German police. If they encountered a situation involving an American, they would call the U.S. security forces to respond.
“The patrols are a direct result of recent Kaiserslautern town hall meetings. Citizens were asking for more law enforcement presence in the downtown pub zone,” said Michael Pletsch, 569th USFPS German civilian security police assistant operations officer.
“Law enforcement representatives got together and had the idea to do it this way. We all want to show the people of Kaiserslautern that we are concerned and responding to their requests. We want to tell them – we are here for you. That way, residents can see plainly that the city is taking action for them,” said Mr. Pletsch.
Captain Nichols said the program was created “to enhance cohesiveness and efficiency between the local German police, security forces and the city administration.”
Walking the downtown beat was just a portion of the night shift for security forces Staff Sgt. James Callahan, 569th USFPS patrolman, and civilian security policeman Marek Bobela, whose full shift runs 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
“They rendezvous at around 9 p.m. at the Gaustrasse police station in the heart of the downtown pub zone and form the plan for the night,” said Mr. Pletsch. “We find out what’s going on in the city that night, and then the situation dictates exactly where we will patrol. If there is a popular band playing at a certain pub or a fest going on in a certain area, we’ll probably be around.”
After the evening’s planning, patrol members meet again at 11 p.m. at the earlier-designated meeting point.
“We expect the patrols to continue every Friday and Saturday as long as manpower allows,” said Captain Nichols. “If there were some major events that the U.S. security forces or the German police must respond to, then of course they might have to miss a night. Under normal circumstances, the joint patrols are scheduled to remain in effect indefinitely.”
Feedback from the German police has been very positive, according to Mr. Pletsch. “If something happens with an American, then they have the American security forces right there beside them to respond,” he said. “We’ve had very positive comments from everyone: U.S. patrols, German police and citizens. It’s a very good thing – everybody likes it.”