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thedrifter
05-24-08, 12:57 PM
Civilians start MP training for MCAS Yuma jobs

May 23, 2008 - 7:44PM
BY CPL. MICHAEL R. WHITNEL, SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Marine Corps Air Station's first academy to train civilians to serve alongside military police Marines has begun.

With 11 students in its inaugural class, the nine-week course, run through a civilian firm, mirrors entry-level education Marine MPs would receive.

The students are the first of 65 civilians the station provost marshal's office intends to hire over the next three years to serve as police officers on the current all-Marine force here.

The shift stems from a Corpswide plan to hire 1,200 civilian officers over the next three years to serve on bases within the United States, allowing for more military policemen in deployable units, such as Yuma's Marine Wing Support Squadron 371.

The 10 men and one woman are being trained as military police, not just as basic gate sentries, said Brian Benbow, lead instructor.

The Department of Defense-approved curriculum covers general as well as Marine-specific law-enforcement topics such as patrol and post activities, searches, first aid, use of force, weapons, communications, traffic management, report writing, civil disturbances and hazardous material response.

Upon graduation, the civilian police officers will hold the same authority of their Marine MP counterparts, such as the ability to issue tickets, conduct searches and make arrests, regardless the ranks of those involved, said Capt. Larry Vines, station provost marshal.

Although the civilians are new to the station, they aren't rookies to police work or the military, said Vines.

The class is diverse in military experience, including five former Marines, three former soldiers, two former airmen and one active National Guardsman. Six have a law enforcement background.

Civilian officers will also have to pass semiannual fitness tests, which will include a 300-meter sprint, crunches, push-ups, mile-and-a-half run and a 145-pound dummy drag.

A physical health examination, drug test, psychological screening and background check must also be passed prior to employment.

Besides Yuma, 11 other Marine Corps bases will hire civilians in the near future. In 2006, Marine Corps Logistics Bases in Barstow, Calif., and Albany, Ga., as well as the Marine Corps' Blount Island Command in Jacksonville, Fla., converted to civilian police.

"This is a great program to keep a nondeployable security force in Yuma, and it will allow more military police to deploy," said Vines.

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Cpl. Michael R. Whitnel is a staff writer for The Desert Warrior, the newspaper of the Marine Corps Air Station, from which this story is reprinted.

Ellie