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thedrifter
08-16-07, 08:43 AM
Camp Lejeune steps up enforcement of gate rules
JENNIFER HLAD
August 16, 2007 - 12:46AM
DAILY NEWS STAFF

Camp Lejeune military police have "stepped up" enforcement of a base regulation that requires visitors to have a military sponsor present to get a base pass.

The base order "has always required that a sponsor must notify the visitors' center in person, by phone or in writing of their guest's pending arrival," said 1st Lt. Gabriela Teresa Swanson, a Provost Marshal's Office spokeswoman. But military police did not begin consistently enforcing the policy until Friday.

This weekend, a hand-lettered sign warned: "If requesting a visitors' pass, you must have your military sponsor present. No exceptions."

A computer-generated sign now hangs on top of that version, and other signs are posted on and around the pass office's glass doors.

However, sponsors do not have to be active-duty members of the military, Swanson said. The order allows military members, retired military members and civil servant employees to serve as sponsors.

And there are some exceptions, Swanson said, such as when a deployed sponsor is unable to call ahead. Those instances will be handled on a case-by-case basis, she said, and the visitors' center will have more personnel on hand for homecomings or other events to handle the additional traffic.

It is unclear why military police began cracking down on enforcement Friday.

But Swanson said it is simply a matter of security.

"This latest policy enforcement is not in direct response to any single threat, but constitutes a collective effort to enhance the base's security measures," Swanson said.

The move is one of many recent efforts to heighten security on base. Earlier this year, crews finished work on a number of security improvements near the base's main gate. In April, base officials closed N.C. 172 through base to the public, allowing access only to drivers with Department of Defense decals.

The commanding officer can change security measures at any time, "based upon the current threat assessment and other pertinent factors," Swanson said.

Some deployed service members returned home this weekend, and many civilians were unprepared for the change. But Swanson said lines were no longer than usual.

However, "a number of people have had to wait for longer periods because individuals in front of them had not coordinated with their sponsor prior to their arrival," Swanson said.

The average wait time was 15 minutes, she said.

About 700 civilians come through the base's front gate during an average work week, though the numbers tend to spike on weekends and around holidays, she said.

Ellie