MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS --
The sight of a sheriff’s cruiser in town usually compels drivers to step on their breaks and make sure they did, in fact, come to a complete stop at that intersection.
Military police of the Provost Marshal’s Office have the same effect here at the Combat Center. Although a first reaction may be to fear the sight of that familiar white truck with lights on top, looking deeper into the life of a military police officer may render different feelings.
Like law enforcement in the civilian world, military law enforcement covers a vast number of duties, said Staff Sgt. James Baker, PMO operations chief.
“Call me biased, but I think being military police is the most versatile MOS [military occupational specialty] in the Marine Corps,” said Baker. “Simply put, there are so many options available.”
Maj. Pietro P. Scarselli, provost marshal, said on top of the K-9 unit support PMO gives the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, they have recently implemented an arrangement that will allow uniformed Marines to travel with civilian law enforcement officials in town.
“Starting about two weeks ago, we have one or two Marines in charlies, [Service “C” uniform] or in cammies out riding with the sheriffs in their vehicles,” said Scarselli about Friday and Saturday night patrols. “They are patrolling hand-in-hand with the local law enforcement for the first time in over a decade.”
PMO Marines patrolling with local law enforcement plays an important role in dealing with any Marine-related issues that sometimes take place off base, added Scarselli, a Flushing Queens, N.Y., native.
Military police officers assist fellow Marines who may be in trouble, in addition to receiving authentic field experience in civilian law enforcement.
PMO also affords non-MOS specific Marines interested in law enforcement an opportunity to experience it through the Auxiliary MP Program without committing to a change in their military occupational specialty, said Scarselli.
“They can become an MP in their off-duty time,” he said. “After they train accordingly, they can participate and start putting in their time.”
In addition to their involvement in town, PMO Marines work in the accident investigations division, criminal investigations division, K-9 unit, traffic court, dispatch control and may even provide security for special events, added Baker.
“We are committed to this base, the Marines and civilians who come through transient here and the local community,” he said.
Marines who work in one of the four traffic sections of PMO rack up a total of approximately 300 man hours a day, adding up to more than 2,000 man hours per week, said Staff Sgt. James L. Daly, traffic chief and Penrose, Colo., native.
Sgt. Greg M. Callicutt, watch commander and military police accident investigator, explained is no such thing as a normal day for him.
When working the day shift, Callicutt said he spends most of the day answering calls for support or service.
“Most of our calls during the day involve damaged or stolen property,” said Callicutt, a Franklinville, N.C., native. “Some calls can take between three to five hours at a time.”
When not on a call, he spends much time doing what he prefers; monitoring day-time traffic and making his rounds on mainside.
Another PMO Marine, Cpl. Coleman J. Plummer, a patrol supervisor and former rifleman with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, said he also prefers day shift working hours.
“I like working a 14 to 15 hour day and coming home feeling like I have accomplished something,” said Plummer, a Naples, Fla., native who reenlisted to become a military police officer. “When I was deployed, I felt like I was doing my job. But as a grunt, you are only providing security seven months at a time. Here, if I get called in to do something, I maintain order of that without moving into combat.”
Master Sgt. John P. Humbertson, operations officer, said PMO Marines are faced with combat-related circumstances on a regular basis and hold a tremendous amount of responsibility.
“They need to make decisions that could impact the rest of someone’s life,” said Humbertson, a Fairmont, W.Va., native. “They deal with such a broad group of people ranging from PFCs [Privates First Class], civilians and officers. They need to have maturity, tact, common sense and good judgment. It’s a very high-visibility job.”
Baker said the duties of PMO are stressed greatly not only due to their obligation to provide security to all base personnel, but also because they are fellow Marines.
“A base is no different than a city,” said Baker, a Lexington, Ky., native. “Marines will be Marines and are aggressive by nature. And the nature of the beast for us is to be held at a higher standard because we provide for the nation’s finest war fighters.”
For more information about the Auxiliary MP Program or other base law enforcement questions, call 830-6820.