MCAS Iwakuni hosts local law enforcement
Japanese police officers attended an outreach orientation program hosted by the air station April 24-25, 2013. The program’s goal was to teach local law enforcement the legal procedures and capabilities aboard MCAS Iwakuni and continue the strong working relationship between the U.S. military and Japan.
More than 40 police officers, including the Chief of Police, the Deputy Chief and senior police officials from different sections, attended the orientation with three police officers from the Japan Maritime Self Defense Criminal Investigation Division.
“This outreach initiative exposes our Japanese counterparts to the U.S. military operations in law enforcement, criminal investigation, intelligence, force protection and legal matters,” said Bobby Shibazaki, operational representative with the Naval Investigative Service and event coordinator. “It also identifies base representatives with bilingual capabilities to contact and coordinate for specific issues quickly and efficiently.”
The orientation started in the Staff Judge Advocate’s courtroom with a welcome aboard brief by Lt. Col. Gordon Limb, station executive officer, followed by a command brief given by Gunnery Sgt. Bryce Piper, station public affairs chief. The briefs gave Iwakuni police officers a background about the station’s units, population, future growth, and what this means to the city of Iwakuni.
A legal brief was given by Lt. Col. Thomas Wagoner, station judge advocate, and Capt. Jacob Smith, judge advocate, covering some differences between Japanese and American law as well as some important points of the Status of Forces Agreement pertaining to Japanese law enforcement dealing with SOFA personnel out in town.
The NCIS brief, given by Shibazaki and Supervisory Special Agent Garrett Waugh, covered the mission and role of NCIS aboard station and in Japan. The Iwakuni Police Department and NCIS work closely together on many cases and the brief highlighted this point, as well as reiterated the need for continued support.
“The Iwakuni Police Station has a jurisdiction and responsibility to provide police services to MCAS Iwakuni,” said Shibazaki. “It is important for the senior police officials to understand the base and the mission of military law enforcement and legal agencies aboard the base.”
The final brief, which was interactive, came from Capt. Thomas Turner, base provost marshal. He gave the attendees a presentation on command structure and what PMO does both on and off base, a brig tour, K-9 demonstration and a hands-on brief from the Special Reaction Team, where the Japanese officers were able to examine weapons and gear used by the force.
“It was a very meaningful day for us. It gave us an opportunity to understand the U.S. military base here in Iwakuni, Japan,” said Noriyuki Kawano, Iwakuni Chief of Police. “This is my second year here, but this is my first time to visit PMO. Since this visit was such an educational one, I hope that we are able to continue to do this visit and more people will get this kind of opportunity.”
Shibazaki hopes to make this orientation a biannual event to foster and continue the relationship between both law enforcement agencies. “As MCAS Iwakuni transforms, increasing the number of assets, facilities, military personnel, civilians and family members, it is important to work closely with the Iwakuni Police Station in the area of force protection.”
If the response and interaction from this past orientation is any indication, there should be more events like this to highlight both agencies’ commitment to working together and learning from each other.