Fort Benning military begins ‘courtesy patrols’ of downtown Columbus

Over the Easter weekend, military personnel from Fort Benning began “courtesy” patrols in downtown Columbus, accompanying civilian police into local hotspots. From WRBL News 3:

The arrangement comes after a beating incident, allegedly involving five soldiers, earlier this month. From today’s Columbus Ledger-Enquirer:

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, an officer and senior non-commissioned officer will walk up and down Broadway from about 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., seeking to keep the peace.

“We’re going to be stepping inside bars, clubs and restaurants that run between Ninth and 12th Street and asking security guards and bouncers whether there’ve been any problems,” said 1st Lt. David Fabozzi. “For example, if the soldier’s too drunk, we can ask him to get in a cab or we can ask for him to call for a ride. We cannot physically restrain the soldier in any way and if it comes to the point when the confrontation is about to get physical, we can ask the Columbus Police Department to step in.”

…[A]fter a somewhat delayed response to the beating, in which four Benning soldiers were charged two weeks ago with aggravated battery, it was clear that post officials sought to send a message to soldiers and the community. In downtown, the stakes are high for the post and the city on the weekend, and both entities have seemed acutely aware of public perception in light of the recent violence, which included a fatal shooting that did not involve any soldiers.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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28 comments Add your comment

Lt Dan

April 25th, 2011
10:24 am

Back during the “Dark Ages”, when the Earth’s greatest Military’s focus was on Southeast Asia, MPs (Military Policemen) and “Fayetnam’s” finest would patrol the areas in-and-around Hay Street and vicinity. Those of you whose vintage reflects that of yours truly will surely remember some of the “wonders” which awaited those who were drawn, like flies to (fill in the blanks), toward the “adventures” which could only be attributed to a Military town.

While…as with any population group…there were always a few “nut cases” who, come hell or high water, couldn’t stay out of trouble if their lives depended on it, the overwhelming majority of troops simply wanted to get hammered and “stuff a few bills” (I certainly hope no further explanations are required on this one). While, by the “standards” of today’s religous right, this activity might be viewed with raised brow, these troops were usually the recipients of trouble, compliments of the local civilian population which, more times than not, failed to appreciate the fact that they were dealing with kids who could, at the flick of a mental switch, go into complete and total offensive mode. If the MPs were on-site, the troops generally got trucked back to Bragg; usually, depending on “skill at egress” and…LUCK…it was back to the bar!

Thanks for the memories!

You Can Tell By The Smell

April 25th, 2011
10:45 am

I was at Fort Benning back in the 1940’s when Phoenix City ,Alabama, (next to Columbuis) was in full swing with wide open gambling and everything else you can imagine. If you think the Columbus area is tough now it is a joy ride when compared to that era. Fights were common and violent with GI’s and gamblers fighting it out. Some ended up in the river. Places that cater to GI’s are often just out for the military dollars and almost anything goes. Human nature being what it is don’t expect anything to change much.

Freedom lover

April 25th, 2011
11:23 am

Posse Comitatus. Get them the hell off the streets and back onto the base. There is no place for military occupation of this nation. This is just about getting people used to having the military everywhere so that it will be easier to make them a permanent fixture on the streets, dutifully protecting the government (they really don’t protect the citizens).

Native Atlantan2

April 25th, 2011
11:28 am

@Freedon Lover — paranoid much? Jeez…I’m as progressive as they come and think this is a great idea. The military can demonstrate to the locals that they’ll work to ensure the troops are civil. Sounds like a winning proposition….

GaBlue

April 25th, 2011
11:40 am

Freedom Lover,

Excuse me, I’m as paranoid as the next modern progressive (and agree that our government is no longer “of the people”), but the young men and women to whom you are referring are are not “them,” they are OURS — as in our children, siblings, cousins, and friends, who have chosen a difficult and demanding career. In my opinion, the quickest way to bring about this police state you fear is to treat start treating our own like the enemy. Respect is a two-way street, Sparky. If you don’t want them in uniform, why don’t you create some jobs and hire a few. It shouldn’t be hard to beat the pay and working conditions they settle for now!

Dinkley2219

April 25th, 2011
12:03 pm

I am not a huge fan of this here in the states and like the others who have posted before I am a progressive. That being said during my overseas tours courtesy patrol was a common site near the immediate base and the party districts, their only purpose was to ensure the soldiers were adhering to curfew and not causing issues with the locals. The C.P. had no interaction with the civilan population unless approached by them, as long as thats the case here and there is no mission creep I am cautiously ok with it.

Joey M

April 25th, 2011
12:20 pm

Yet another example why alcohol should be illegal. Nothing positive comes from drinking alcohol. Health benefits you say? You can get the same benefits from grape juice.

Last Man Standing

April 25th, 2011
12:28 pm

Lt Dan:

“Thanks for the memories!”

No. Thank YOU for the memories!

RetiredSoldier

April 25th, 2011
12:45 pm

GaBlue-

We finally agree on an issue, or should I say a non-issue! Good for Benning, our soldiers should be the best behaved around, but that doesn’t always happen. Glad Benning is taking this positive action.

And yes Lt. Dan, I remember Hat St. too. Airborne!

RetiredSoldier

April 25th, 2011
12:45 pm

Alabama Communist

April 25th, 2011
12:49 pm

So the Military Industrial Complex has decided that Columbus is a war zone and needs the typical unconsitutional Police State methods to maintain Republican Law and Order…

Retired NCO

April 25th, 2011
1:15 pm

I think it’s good for the Soldiers and good for the community. Courtesy Patrols were once common in towns near military installations. I didn’t see any comment that indicated the Courtesy Patrols had any legal authority. They are out there to help OUR Soldiers stay out of trouble.

GaBlue

April 25th, 2011
1:16 pm

Alabama Communist,

That might be true, but the soldiers are just young men and women, many of whom joined the military because other opportunities are scarce. They are being USED to build the wealth and power of the mighty corporate overlords, but they’re still just young men & women who grew up believing in the America in our B.S. history books and corporate television that’s been piped into their heads since birth. I ask you: when the revolution comes (wink wink), don’t you want them on OUR side?

Bobby_Tate

April 25th, 2011
1:19 pm

Not sure that this is a police state question. Having Military personnel assisting the police in certain areas where soldiers are known to sometimes get out of hand is proper. As a service member there are certain responsibilities they have out in public, and if they need to be reminded to take them seriously, then remind them.

Columbus Elder Flower Child

April 25th, 2011
1:24 pm

Civilians are afraid to go downtown in Columbus, at night, after a few violent events. I think the miliary response is to provide a sense of greater protection and aid the cops, more so than policing the GIs.

darkstar3d

April 25th, 2011
1:26 pm

GaBlue, interesting, when the revolution comes.

fredzz

April 25th, 2011
1:28 pm

Joey M? You must be a joke, no one is this stupid.

joe

April 25th, 2011
1:47 pm

Lt. Dan, Sorry I ruined your New Years Party, she tasted like cigarettes…That’s my boat…You got new legs!! Classic…

History Will Teach Us if We Will Learn

April 25th, 2011
2:00 pm

Aside from the lunatic fringe, whose commentsalways seem to indicate a maladjusted tin foil hat, common sense should prevail. Posse Comitatus applies only when trying to enforce civilian law with military personnel or units. This is no differnt than the military assisting in a natural disaster. The MPs ability to collect a name and unit number often will avert a later more unfortunate confrontation that is until the dog face has an opportunity to see what real violence is when discussing the evening with his/her plattoon Sgt. (Although I wish I was still in shape to do a 5 mile run with my DI and a full pack among the lovely hills of Fort Knox KY, while coming to a better understanding of the error of my ways.)

Kennesaw Dave

April 25th, 2011
2:46 pm

I don’t know why people are surprised or even up in arms about this. Columbus is a military town just like a lot of places around the country. You’re going to have things like this happen with soldiers are granted leave from the base or begin living off base. Judging from what I’ve read and this is only my interpretation. It seems the base is simply taking responsibility for its soldiers and being proactive in trying to keep this from happening again. I very much doubt that it’s any attempt to get the general public use to a police state. It’s a military town for crying out loud. Anyone who’s lived in one, and I have. have been use to that for years. And Joey M, while I agree with the fact that alcohol can cause trouble, people have to be responsible for themselves and how much they drink. They tried making it illegal and all that accomplished was more crime and violence.

Kennesaw Dave

April 25th, 2011
2:52 pm

To History: I think I’m right on this but maybe you can clarify it for me. Can’t soldiers be charged under the military code of justice when something like this happens? Say, a charge of conduct unbecoming along with civilian charges?

nugy

April 25th, 2011
3:28 pm

funny we can allow our military work on the streets of the usa but not on the border of our country

Freedom lover

April 25th, 2011
4:36 pm

The problem is clearly the standing army. Just look at the situation around any and every US military installation around the world. Virtually every one of the founding fathers warned against the presence of a standing military (although many supported a strong navy) for so many reasons, not the least of which was its inherent risk to sustained liberty for the citizens.

History Will Teach Us if We Will Learn

April 25th, 2011
4:53 pm

Dave, I am not an expert on UCMJ but it seems to me under Article 15 , a commanding officer has a great deal on latitude in dealing with minor offenses and conduct issues.
Freedom Lover: You need to adjust your tin foil hat, it is out of alignment…

Lt Dan

April 25th, 2011
7:17 pm

Tellbythesmell, it’s always good to see that members of the Greatest Generation…the Generation that rode, with my Dad, those Higgins Boats onto the Anzio Beaches, endure. We often spoke of common experiences; though those experiences were some twenty years apart, it somehow felt that there existed a continueum, common to Soldiers of many generations. My step mom would often remark that he spoke of things, with me, which he never would otherwise broach. Somehow, I suppose, the life of a Dogface consists of common threads which transcend time and which those who haven’t tasted the dirt will never fully understand.

I want to take this opportunity to thank you, Sir, for riding the world of tyranny on both sides of the globe. I know that, were it not for the selfless actions of your generation…as seemingly “tough” as things are today…we would have it 1000 X 1000 X tougher today. Thanks, Soldier! And Joe, Retired, Last Man, et al…thanks for your comments.

Lt Dan

April 25th, 2011
8:52 pm

Oh, and let’s not forget those bastions of “Fayetville Civilization”…those blockhouses of brew…BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND (at least in the fading walks down Amnesia Lane)(drumroll!) the Clown and Circus Lounges! (strains to the Johnny Carson Show…HEEEEER’S JOHNNY!).

It was always advisable to have someone in the herd remain in a semi-sober state, otherwise, them bar girls were just as apt to take your “piasters” and run…DINKY-FREQUIN-DOW!

Lt Dan

April 26th, 2011
9:29 am

Lt to Gump: They gave you, a moron and an embicile, the CMH!

Gump: Yasir.

Lt to Gump: Well then why are you playing in that pile of horse dung?

Gump to Lt: I’m building an NCO, Lootinint Dan.

Drill Sargeant to Gump: Private Gump, WHY are you building an NCO?

Gump to Drill Sargeant: Cause I ain’t got nuff dung for an officer.

Drill Sargeant to Gump: Outstanding, Private Gump. If it wasn’t such a waste of fine enlisted man, I’d recommend you for OCS.

Gump to Drill Sargeant: I’d a’ruther go play ping pong, Drill Sargeant.

Lt to Gump: Well before you go, run down to Walmart and get a few bottles of Ripple, two cases of Dr. Pepper, and a pair of pants.

Gump to Lt: Why the pants, Lootinint Dan?

Lt to Gump: Cause the ones you’re wearin stink like cigerettes…what the hell you been into, Gump?!

Gump to Lt: Yasir!

Lt Dan

April 27th, 2011
5:12 pm

Oh, and let’s not forget the Drop Zone, Caruso’s, and that unforgetable hotel on Hay Street. 82nd. ABN!