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U.S. Marines responds to an off-base call, as Security and Emergency Services ambulance at Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif., Jan. 13.

Photo by Keith Hayes

Military and civilian police join forces

9 Feb 2021 | Keith Hayes Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow

Combining civilian police officers and Military Police personnel to staff the Marine Corps Police Department provides an enhanced law enforcement presence aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, California.

Capt. Mark Machado, MCLB Barstow’s police chief and provost marshal, has been overseeing the influx of Marine Corps Military Police personnel coming in from divested MP battalions as well as MPs coming right from the United States Army Military Police School.

“Right now we have 12 MPs on hand, of which 10 are on the patrol force and we have two Military Working Dog handlers,” he said. “With the exception of two MPs coming from Okinawa, Japan, the rest are from USAMPS at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and this is their first duty billet.”

Machado said most of the MPs coming from the schoolhouse are arriving aboard base with all of the certifications they need to begin training with the Field Training Officers in the department. This saves a lot of time in getting them out on patrol and manning the gates at both the Nebo and Yermo Annex sides of the base.

“With civilian police officers, we have to go through the hiring process, and then send them away for three months to the civilian police academy, which is also at USAMPS, then have them go through the four month training period with their FTOs before they can operate autonomously,” he said.

“The Marines are filling in key positions at the lower levels as far as the gates are concerned,” Machado said. “They’re really hard workers and eager to learn. This ensures that security we provide aboard MCLB Barstow remains at the highest level possible.”

“Prior to the divestments of the MP battalions at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, the Fleet Assistance Program would send Marines to large bases needing additional law enforcement personnel, but they wouldn’t necessarily have the official law enforcement Military Occupational Specialty,” he explained.

When the all of the FAP spots in the Corps are filled by MPs and civilian police, those Marines working under the FAP would be returned to fleet to bolster the numbers, the captain said.

When all of the 22 spots for MPs are filled aboard MCLB Barstow, the provost marshal will have the flexibility he needs to the fill shifts suddenly reduced by officers whom may contract COVID or other illnesses, or may be deployed themselves.

“They’re really hard workers and eager to learn. This ensures that security we provide aboard MCLB Barstow remains at the highest level possible.” Capt. Mark Machado, MCLB Barstow’s police chief

“Civilian police officers serve six months on day shift and six months on night shift,” Machado said. “MPs, however, are not subject to the law enforcement union stipulations, so I can take an MP from night shift and put them on day shift without having to go through the union, which saves a lot of time and ensures our base security stays at high levels.”

Large Marine Corps bases usually put two MPs together on patrol or two civilian police officers on patrol, but Machado has changed that up for a combined team.

“I did that on this base because I wanted a fully integrated force. Marines working with FTOs allows both of them to learn from each other,” he said.

Lance Cpl. Anya Hunter is one of the new MPs aboard base, coming straight from USAMPS to her first duty station at MCLB Barstow.

“I think the civilian police department has very good police officers,” she said. “The civilian POs have a different way of looking at things than the MPs do because they are civilians,” Hunter said.

“The combination of civilian POs and Marines MPs on law enforcement duty helps me learn how to better communicate with civilians I may encounter on the job. Being from the Marine Corps culture I can already work with the Marines I encounter,” she added. “I think the Marines appreciate having an MP aboard base.”

“I believe that having MPs on calls that involve Marine personnel sets a calmer tone because the Marine is thinking ‘I’m talking to another Marine rather than a civilian PO,’” Machado agreed.

“I think it’s great that the two forces have been combined," the chief said. "It’s made MCLB Barstow a better environment. In the past the Corps has not sent very many Marines here, but I appreciate the Corps starting to send more Marines to MCLB Barstow again because it really improves the base and represents to those outside the wire more of what a Marine base should look like."