In the wake of the Chattanooga shooting, we’re seeing several places where well meaning civilians have taken upon themselves the duty of standing guard over recruiting stations.
While we admire the intent, the fact is, it will have some unintended consequences. US Army Recruiting Command has issued guidance to the field regarding this. Via TAH.
Subject: USAREC Policy – Armed citizens at recruiting centers ATO’s,
Situation: The USAREC COC has received reports from two Brigade ATOs, social media and TV coverage that law abiding armed citizens are standing outside of our recruiting centers in an attempt to safeguard our recruiters.
1) Recruiters will not acknowledge the presence or interact with these civilians. If questioned by these alleged concerned citizens; be polite, professional, and terminate the conversation immediately and report the incident to local law enforcement and complete USAREC Form 958 IAW USAREC 190-4 (SIR)
2) Do not automatically assume these concerned citizens are there to help.
Immediately report IAW USAREC 190-4 (Suspicious Behavior)
3) Immediately report any civilians loitering near the Station/Center to local police if the recruiter feels threatened. Ensure your recruiters’ clearly articulate to local police the civilian may be armed and in possession of a conceal/carry permit. Ensure recruiters include any information provided by local police in their SIR reporting the incident.
4) Ensure all station commanders implement FPCON Charlie 6 (Lock and secure entry points) addressed in previous email.
5) I’m sure the citizens mean well, but we cannot assume this in every case and we do not want to advocate this behavior.
*** The timely and accurate submission of 958s (SIR) is imperative to track these incidents and elicit support from TRADOC, ARNORTH and NORTHCOM.
As with Jonn, I agree that this is a mostly reasonable policy. The Army cannot endorse the actions of the citizens. Nor can they simply assume they mean well. Furthermore, should some untoward action occur, say, these citizens mistakenly take another American for a threat and engage them unlawfully, it is imperative that it be known that the Army had nothing to do with it.
Unfortunately, FPCON Charlie 6 (Force Protection Condition) basically shuts down the recruiting station. And therein lies a problem, as the sine qua non of recruiting is engaging with the public.
While informing local law enforcement, and filing SIRs makes sense, it also increases the odds of an unhappy encounter between these citizens and LEOs.
I think as a first step, USAREC might have directed station commanders to share this guidance with those citizens who are attempting to both provide a service and made a statement. One presumes that senior NCOs have enough judgment to discern the likelihood that a party of armed citizens outside have no ill intent, and sharing this guidance would cause them to reconsider if their actions were truly in the recruiter’s best interests. And if they choose to continue their vigil, well, provided they are within the bounds of the law, that is their right.