Keeping peace of mind about securing enough merchandise to cover nearly 200,000 square feet is not easy, but for those looking after the Kaiserslautern Military Community Center, it’s all in a day – and night’s – work.
The KMCC is the largest combined Air Force Services Agency and Army and Air Force Exchange Services facility of its kind, and it provides an impressive number of goods and services to a local community of more than 57,000 people.
Launching that kind of operation can present some challenges for base support organizations, and one of those is how to ensure the safety and security of millions of dollars worth of merchandise.
To help overcome that challenge, a group of security experts from the AAFES Loss Prevention team is supplemented with assistance from the 86th Security Forces Squadron to help protect the facility from theft, vandalism and other issues normally faced by retail shopping centers.
“We have always had an excellent security relationship between AAFES Loss Prevention and security forces,” said Corina McMilion, AAFES KMC Area Loss Prevention manager. “All investigative agencies have been supportive and we work very well together.
Their combined efforts have proven to be effective so far, and taking on their “eagle eyes” with criminal activity or mischievous acts doesn’t seem worth the risk of getting caught.
Round the clock foot patrols and sophisticated surveillance systems are a few of the techniques currently in place to ensure everyone enjoys a worthwhile experience at the KMCC, and every now and then, military working dogs add to the rounds to ensure things stay that way. The regular patrols provide a presence and a job the teams take seriously, but where they really see a positive impact is through the more community-oriented programs.
“Community awareness is an important part of our loss prevention mission,” Mrs. McMilion said. “We coordinate community outreach programs to include visiting schools to educate our young family members about the consequences not only for themselves, but also for their families if they are involved in shoplifting incidents.”
As they assist with patrolling the KMCC, 86th SFS personnel continue to lend a hand with the community policing concept and enforcement process.
“Shoplifting happens,” said Tech. Sgt. Brian Dougherty, 86th SFS KMCC security liaison. “We know that, and we try to minimize those cases as much as possible, but when they do occur, we have laid a foundation of good relationships to minimize the effects.”
And those relationships pay off when someone is suspected of criminal activity. For example, if someone is suspected of shoplifting, coordination kicks into full swing, starting with the store vendor who notices something suspicious. The vendor notifies the AAFES Loss Prevention team who will monitor the person via recorded cameras while they notify base security. In the process, AAFES may detain someone suspected of criminal activity, but ultimately someone’s chain of command or other local authorities would pursue the incident and administer punishment if they are found guilty of wrongdoing.
It is well understood that this process works for more than just shoplifting, though. The same cooperation works well in cases of vandalism, violence or any other acts that may disturb the peace.
“The building is a one of a kind and has presented some challenges,” Sergeant Dougherty said. “We do our best to deter any future incidents all while maintaining the same security we have always had for every other building on Ramstein.”
Other relationships that have become important include those with fire and medical personnel, as well as the German Polizei.
“I think as the KMCC neared opening, our leaders realized there were many things that were going to require coordinated responses,” Sergeant Dougherty said. “For now, we do interior and exterior patrols around the building, especially at night, to ensure we meet their expectation of providing a quick, coordinated response as people become comfortable with their role in the facility.”
For now, loss prevention teams realize that as use of the facility grows, so will the security requirement.
“We’ll do what’s required to ensure everyone and everything remains safe, and we will continually re-evaluate the security needs as time progresses to ensure the resources responding are appropriate,” said Lt. Col. Seth Frank, 86th SFS commander, who also said the team may look at new ways of providing security in the future.
Although security and loss prevention for an 844,000-square-foot new facility may sound like a daunting task, cooperation between all the responsible parties ensures that it can be handled in a manner that allows the building to be treated just like any other security asset on base.
The final phase of KMCC openings includes the AAFES Base Exchange, which will
take place Sept. 21.
For a full list of closures and other KMCC info, check out www.ramstein.af.mil/