From the classroom to the streets


A call came in on the radio. ‘There’s a disturbance just outside building 1210.’ More detail than that was given – more than I can remember. There weren’t any vehicles available so we walked over to check it out. Sure enough, as we got closer to the building we saw them. One female, three males – all looked to be in their early 20s.

The Security Forces Airmen called out commands to ensure weapons weren’t present before proceeding. Each took a different person, grabbed notebooks from their pockets and began questioning them. Question after question, they gathered as many details as they possibly could. At one point, one of the males got arrested. The SFS Airman directed him to put his hands behind his back, and proceeded with the handcuffs.

As that scenario continued to pan out, I jumped into a truck with four other SFS Airmen to conduct base patrols. We drove around, waiting for calls to come in. When they were identified over the radio by their call sign, the driver put the truck into park. Each Airman grabbed his notebook and prepared to write down the information they were about to receive. Details started flowing from the radio – who they needed to look for, how tall they were, male or female, what they were wearing, where they were last seen, why they needed to find them, etc. The Airmen wrote down every detail as quickly as possible. When the call was done, they began the search.

Never in a million years would I have guessed how hard it is to locate someone. I definitely don’t give our SFS or law enforcement folks enough credit. We drove and drove, and searched and searched. By the time we got the third call, it was a vehicle we needed to look for. That was so much easier than trying to find a single person.

When the black Nissan was spotted with its dark, tinted windows – the action began. After pulling the vehicle over, the lead Airmen started calling out commands. His voice was deep and loud. Even I was scared and I was just along for the ride! One command after another, they got the driver and passenger to do exactly what they needed them to do.

Their training paid off.

The Airmen I spent the day with have been training for the last 3-4 drill weekends. Each unit training assembly they are given a new tool for their toolbox. They focus on topics like reading someone his or her rights, approaching a traffic stop, questioning strategies, etc. Once the instructors feel the Airmen have a strong understanding of the information and procedures – they plan for an exercise day. The exercise day is used to combine all their knowledge, testing them on everything they’ve learned. The tests give the instructors reassurance that their Airmen will succeed in any scenario they encounter. When they send them off to deploy, they can confidently say their Airmen are trained to their fullest potential.

And, let me reassure you – the Security Forces Airmen from the 115th Fighter Wing are trained to their fullest potential (I got to see it first hand!)


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About Tech. Sgt. Andrea F. Rhode

Tech. Sgt. Andrea F. Rhode is a photojournalist for the 115th Fighter Wing in Madison, Wisconsin.