New sheriff in town: Jefferson Barracks establishes civilian police force
By By Master Sgt. Elise Rich, 131st Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 16, 2021
ST. LOUIS -- Jefferson Barracks Air National Guard Base is getting its own police force, the first of its kind for an Air National Guard installation. The force will consist of Department of the Air Force civilian police on Title 5 orders, which means a military background is not necessary for the position.
“Our officers will have jurisdiction, arrest authority and be armed.” said Capt. Greg Myers, Conversion Officer for the 131st Security Forces Operating Location. “This is the first of its kind: an all Title 5 law enforcement organization within the Air National Guard. It looks and feels like a typical security forces squadron, but they're all civilian.”
Myers said as of July 2021 almost all of the 35 positions filled and there was a very large interest in the jobs.
“Having civilian positions opened the doors to a diverse pool of applicants.” said Myers. “I’ve received feedback from our state human resources office that this was one of the largest applicant pools they had seen. We had applicants who were SWAT Leads, Secret Service, FBI Forensic Analysts and veterans from all military services, except the Space Force.”
Myers works alongside Chief Master Sgt. Mark Kaufmann, the security forces representative and program Manager. Kaufmann was previously a senior enlisted advisor for Michigan National Guard Joint Staff, but couldn’t pass on an opportunity to create a new type of organization in the Air National Guard.
The newly-hired civilian defenders are waiting to go to the Department of the Air Force Law Enforcement Training Center in Little Rock, Arkansas, which is a 10 1/2 week school. After graduation, the defenders will receive additional on-the-job training at Jefferson Barracks.
A civilian force also means no military uniform for the officers. Instead, they will have a black and blue federal police uniform. Jefferson Barracks’ civilian defenders will patrol both in vehicles and on bicycles.
In 2013, the 131st Bomb Wing Security Forces Squadron was disbanded and contract security was used as primary protection at Jefferson Barracks. Since that time, Jefferson Barracks has grown, adding units and personnel from the Air and Army National Guard, Army Reserve, Defense Intelligence Agency, Navy Reserve and Army Audit Agency. Other organizations have also expressed interest in a future at Jefferson Barracks. Kaufmann said the increase in base population has warranted an increase in the level of security and service.
Kaufmann said the new organization is expected to be fully operational by June 2022, but that new officers are already integrating with the base’s current security guards. He said there is interest from other ANG units on what is happening at Jefferson Barracks and how to develop their own civilian police force.
“We hope to blaze a trail to help other programs in the future successfully convert to Title 5 positions,” said Kaufmann. “We are making sure we build a premier organization that’s a benchmark for the Air National Guard to replicate.”