CNRSW sets up 'Patrol Watches' on naval bases
by MC2 Shawnte Bryan, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West
SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Chief petty officers (CPOs), along with junior officers (O1-O3) and first class petty officers (PO1s), act as a positive presence to promote good order and discipline and help foster good decision-making in the U.S. Navy.
Here is a scenario: after a long, stressful week at work, a male Sailor decides to go out for drinks. Across the bar, he spots a female Sailor and invites her to join him.
After a few drinks, they share a cab ride. In the cab, she starts to feel nauseated and develops a pounding headache. Getting out of the cab, he pats her back and suggests going back to his place where he has ibuprofen. Stumbling, she refuses, but he is persistent with his advances.
In the distance, a chief petty officer with a shore patrol badge approaches the two Sailors and asks if everything is okay. While surveying the female's condition, he tells the male Sailor to report to his room and that he will escort the female back to hers.
The chief that was there to help is a part of the Commander, Navy Region Southwest (CNRSW) unaccompanied Housing Roving Patrol.
"This program started when we looked at the numbers for sexual assault and us wanting to affect change where we can," said CNRSW Command Master Chief CMDCM David Dearie. "Following one of Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Michael Stevens' guiding principles of excellence, we get to 'control what we own.'"
According to estimates based on anonymous surveys by the Department of the Navy in 2011, 2,485 Sailors and 1,453 Marines were sexually assaulted; however, military leaders recognize that the actual number of assaults is much higher.
"The statistics might not state that sexual assault takes place more off base than on base, but we can still affect change on the base," said Dearie. "That's what we own."
When the program first started, there wasn't much evidence that stated unaccompanied housing had a big problem with sexual assault. After two weeks, CNRSW received positive feedback from the Sailors who live there.
"I think that the shore patrol walking around is a good thing and does deter sexual assault in a way," said Damage Controlman Fireman Colleen Frank. "If I would ever need them for help, knowing that they are walking around is a good thing."
The roving patrols pass through public establishments to include Morale, Welfare, and Recreation facilities, parks adjacent to unaccompanied housing and private party venture, mini-marts, and other places on the route that Sailors mingle. The main priority of the patrols is to engage Sailors and build rapport. They also report any major events such as underage drinking, fighting, operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, and sexual assault.
"They are not looking to get people in trouble but act as leaders and mentors," said Dearie. "The ultimate goal is to eliminate sexual assault from our ranks. We can start by reducing it. We need people to be responsible and respectful."
"I don't think we can get rid of sexual assault 100 percent because of human error," said Frank. "You will always have that bad seed. But I think these watches are a great start to preventing bad situations such as sexual assault and date rape."
The roving patrols stand watch from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. Friday and Saturday. However, each tenant command and installation can suggest program improvements to Dearie through the Sailor's command master chief or installation command master chief.
Each patrol is comprised of two service members, one being a CPO or senior chief petty officer (SCPO). For example, teams can consist of a CPO/SCPO and a PO1; CPO/SCPO and a junior officer; or CPO/SCPO and CPO/SCPO.
The program exists on the three major Naval bases in San Diego and extends throughout the region as far north as Fallon, Nev.
"This program is stabilizing throughout the region, and we plan to keep it around for a long time," said Dearie. "In order to get to the left of the sexual assault and disorderly behavior, more training will be given by working through focus groups, working with the Sheriff's department, and examining what civilians are doing. Not that the civilian sector is different, but maybe they deliver it in a different way."