“Lockdown, Lockdown, Lockdown — Real-World Incident” is something no one wants to hear blasting at Luke Air Force Base, triggering a full-scale emergency response.
When those words came over the Luke Command Post Giant Voice System on Feb. 26, they signaled the beginning of a base-wide active shooter exercise involving base security forces, known as Defenders, and local law enforcement officers.
While almost everyone on base sheltered in place, the screams of sirens and racing vehicles showcased the rapid, integrated response of the ones who have sworn to serve and protect — the Defenders and local law enforcement. Although officials determined the emergency was a false alarm, the actions taken showcased the strong relationship the base shares with community emergency response teams.
“Our integrated response is more than having supporting reinforcement provided by our local law enforcement departments,” Maj. Kimberly Guest, 56th Security Forces Squadron commander, said. “Security Forces, the Office of Special Investigations, the U.S. Marshals, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and Glendale Police Department SWAT were inside the [threat area], seamlessly supporting each other.
“The immediate and in-depth mutual response was highlighted during this real-world response. Over 100 law enforcement officers were on scene clearing the [threat area] within minutes,” she added.
Luke Air Force Base is no stranger to the importance of partnerships, having multiple foreign partners training and flying together with the ultimate goal of fighting as one team. This idea carries over into base security as well with the 56th SFS, Glendale Police Department and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office training and working together.
“The sheriff’s office, local law enforcement and military often have different missions, practices and procedures,” said Capt. Shawn Braaten, MCSO District II commander. “Combined training [enhances] communications, best practice tactics and an awareness of current SFS procedures. Integration [provides] environmental awareness for the sheriff’s oOffice; familiarity of the venue and SFS procedures. There are several differences between organizations, policies, procedure, mission and tactics. The objective of the integrated training is to enhance safety for all involved and all stakeholders.”
When the exercise turned into a possible real-world threat, the partnership between local PD and on-base security forces showcased the importance of the partnerships between the different departments, according to Lt. Marc McCauslin, GPD patrolman.
“Teamwork was highlighted,” Lt. McCauslin said. “There were three agencies and many people working this event with a vast diversity of experience and training, including ranks from upper management to line level. There were no egos to compete with as all parties worked with the same goal in mind, to save lives and stop the threat. I was very impressed with everything and everyone I observed during the response.”
Training together not only helps them to work together seamlessly, but it allows the local law enforcement to supplement security on the base.
“In addition to routine patrolling and deterrence of criminal activity throughout our communities, intelligence sharing occurs daily for any potential or credible threats to our airmen, both on and off the installation,” Maj. Guest said. “Intelligence sharing assists and informs Force Protection recommendations to our members, families and community.”
She said working side-by-side with community partners creates an environment of undeniable support, both in training and in real-world operations.
“Integrated response doesn’t change the level or quality of training for either department, on base or off, but it does build rapport, mutual understanding and strengthens our partnerships, especially for real-world responses,” Maj. Guest said.
Luke’s relationship with local law enforcement impacts not only the current security, but the future of the base’s security as well.
“The partnership, training support and real-world support are unparalleled,” Maj. Guest said. “The routine training focus and interoperability has been a point in which our Defenders and Airmen have benefitted and will continue to benefit [from] for years to come.”
Editor’s note: Staff Sgt. Amber Carter is with the 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs office at Luke Air Force Base.