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Vandenberg leads the way in base security

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Vandenberg is paving the way for Air Force installation security by implementing a new method of checking identification cards at base access points Monday.

The base will be the first in the Air Force to put into use this new system of identification verification in the continental United States. 

The new security scanner is much more than just a way to check military ID cards however. The scanner has the ability to check a wide variety of ID cards, including driver's licenses and security badges. It can scan anything with a 2-D or 3-D barcode, as well as magnetic stripes, said Todd Miz, 30th Space Wing anti-terrorism officer. It also has the ability to detect fake IDs, he said. 

The largest impact of the scanner at the gates is its ability to pull information from more than 140 data bases, including the FBI, CIA and other bases, allowing it to receive instantaneous information about a person trying to enter the base community. 

This scanner is similar to the system currently in use at bases in Europe. Its functionality however, is more instant in that it uses databases that have already been compiled and are updated regularly. The system in Europe requires the base to build its own database. 

"With this tool, we are able to check the available databases to ensure people gaining access to this base don't have warrants for arrest or felonies on their record; or even the possibility of an individual being on a terrorist watch list," said Tech. Sgt. Michael Johnson, 30th Security Forces Squadron assistant anti-terrorism officer. "This security tool gives us the opportunity to validate a person's access to this community, whether they're military members, dependents, civilian workers, retirees or even temporary visitors." 

But people with unfavorable information attached to their records won't necessarily be completely barred from the base. 

"Everybody who has a flag raised on the scan of their ID will require a second look by a law enforcement officer to review their individual circumstance," Mr. Miz said. "Everything will be looked at on a case-by-case basis." 

Security forces expect minimal delays as a result of the scanner's use. 

"We are beginning with a slow phase-in period so we can determine the impact at different gates during different traffic periods," Sergeant Johnson said. "We don't expect too much of an impact." 

For now, the new scanner will only be used at the gates; however, its use in the future is expected to expand dramatically. 

"We expect to use the scanner in a variety of our security measures," Sergeant Johnson said. "A large impact is expected in its proposed use for visitor procedures." 

Security forces are looking at a way for members of the base community to vouch for visitors from their computers. Through a soon-to-be-determined secure method, Airmen will be able to log onto a Web site and provide information about their guests and the day they are expected to arrive. 

"In some cases, this will keep people from having to come to the visitor center to sign in their guests," Sergeant Johnson said. "Of course, force protection conditions may affect this from time to time." 

Eventual uses may also include restricted area badge processing, facility access, incident scene accountability, vehicle registration and even hunting registration.
The scanner system is currently in use at other Department of Defense installations in the United States; most of them Navy, and a few Army posts as well. Air Force Space Command is also looking into implementing this system command-wide.