Monday, August 17, 2009

Shooting & Hostage Drill at Earle raises NOPE's doubts about law enforcement self-sufficiency

It appears that earlier this month a drill was conducted to prepare Navy security personnel at NWS Earle Mainside and other law enforcement interests for a scenario where "a sailor is shot by her husband in their temporary quarters aboard (the) base" who then "flees the scene."

That this scenario (which evidently involved the base command, Earle tenants, NCIS, customs agents and state and local police) was played out in "temporary quarters" could support a view of this drill as a precursor to what could happen (whether the miscreant is a relative of a sailor or a crazed civilian resident) once the base becomes overrun with civilian occupants and visitors come September 2010, unless the Navy reverses course on an otherwise ridiculous plan for what to do with largely vacant Laurelwood housing.

Parsing through the Navy jargon in this puff piece written by an Earle PR person, the drill was part of Earle's Higher Headquarters Assessment (i.e. appraisal of military operations), which suggests routine business. Clearly the neighbors in the surrounding Earle communities would hope for high marks on these kinds of drills, and apparently the participants quoted in this press release fell all over themselves with praise. In our view, the exercise suggests something less than the security self-sufficiency asserted in the kickoff Federal Register announcement of the Laurelwood opening to civilians.

The involvement of the New Jersey State Police raises red flags regarding the eventual role of state law enforcement in all of this and use of NJ taxpayer dollars to police Laurelwood housing on federal property through the year 2040. NAVFAC's Laurelwood EIS portrays law enforcement as NWS Earle's bailiwick (in other words, foot the bill for any additional security detail to patrol the new road, guard the base from intrusion by Laurelwood residents, and handle all police and court matters involving the homes and new 1.7-mile access road), and we can only speculate that in the event that Laurelwood becomes overrun with civilians that the Navy will need to reach out to state and local law enforcement and emergency responders for help once oversight becomes burdensome to the base commander and a distraction to NWS Earle's sole mission - to provide ammunition to the fleet.

The last thing that we as Earle's neighbors need is for unnecessary distractions brought on by civilian housing at Laurelwood to NWS Earle's own security and core mission such as the scenario played out in the recent shooting-and-hostage drill.

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