By Carrie Dungan
Many community members are frustrated by increased lines at Fort Bragg’s Access Control Points. However, the checks that occur through the Automated Installation Entry system have helped reduce the crime rate by over 20 percent since implementation in 2012, said Mickey McQuain, physical security officer, physical security division, Directorate of Emergency Services.
“The AIE mission is to enhance installation security by being able to detect, assess and warn through an automated personnel verification and authentication process,” he said.
Fort Bragg was the seventh Army installation to implement the system in 2012. According to McQuain, the Army started with smaller installations before bringing it to the base with the largest population in the Army.
“Then when we got it, we really made it work,” McQuain said.
The AIE system is linked to the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. When someone scans a Department of Defense ID at an ACP pedestal, AIE pulls that person’s information from the DEERS database. This ensures that the retiree, active-duty service member or Family member is using a real credential, McQuain explained.
The system also shows the gate guard the individual’s DEERS picture.
“That’s why most of the public, when they see the guards not stepping out of the booth and they’re thinking ‘what are they doing, why aren’t they interacting?’ Well, it’s because they’re looking at a screen that gives a side-by-side profile, the camera that’s looking at them when they swipe right there at the pedestal and then the guard is looking at the data coming from the DEERS database,” McQuain said.
If the individual has an expired or duplicate credential, the gate guard will immediately confiscate that ID card. McQuain said they frequently see people use old ID cards that were deactivated after receiving a replacement. He said his team has confiscated thousands of cards since implementation of the AIE system.
“That keeps us from having someone with fraudulent identification trying to attempt to get on the installation.”
In addition to verifying credentials, the AIE system also checks all forms of ID against a criminal database. For example, if a locality puts out a bench warrant on an individual for failure to appear in court, and that person attempts to come through a Fort Bragg ACP, the gate guards will detain the individual. The guards will then turn the person over to the local authorities or military police.
The system also displays whether that person has a bar from post or temporary suspension from driving onto post, such as for failure to attend a Driver Improvement Training course.
All of these checks are one reason why it takes a few seconds to get through an ACP. McQuain said that people need to realize these three to five second checks are much shorter than what someone would experience with an in-person criminal history check.
“Security is not about convenience,” he said. “Folks have to understand that we are here to protect them; to do a service against terrorism, espionage, sabotage, criminal activities — this is what the system is there for.”
The AIE system makes Fort Bragg feel like a gated community with an “open-post feel,” according to McQuain. It allows installation security officers to know who is coming and going on the installation and it meets presidential and Army security requirements.
He said his team empathizes with the concerns of the community about the traffic around ACPs. According to McQuain, 350 vehicles traveling through one ACP lane per hour constitutes one guard in that lane. Anything above that number requires a second guard in the lane.
“We’re doing everything we can. I want the public to know that we’re doing traffic counts to validate how much traffic is coming through at which hour at which location,” he said.
“We’re not trying to make the public upset. We are just trying to do what’s right for the installation.”