Visitors to military bases throughout the country could soon be required to complete an instant background check before being allowed to set for on Army installation property. Virginia’s Fort Lee is one of the first outposts to implement the sweeping new security changes. Fort Lee experienced a “close call” last August, when a female soldier caused a disturbance at the base before fatally shooting herself.
That particular threat came internally, which has been the case with numerous military base shootings in recent years. From the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood to the 2013 Washington Navy Yard shooting, the gunmen in such attacks have mostly been members of the military with security clearance to access the bases in question. However, the government is still worried about outside threats, specifically of those posed by visitors. The new background check police at Fort Lee, therefore, as well as similar policies that are soon expected to spread throughout the nation, will target visitors specifically.
To start, a new visitor center will be constructed at Fort Lee. Any person who arrives on site without a valid Department of Defense ID will be directed toward the visitor center, where they will be required to undergo a criminal background check. If the person has a felony on their record, they will automatically be denied access to the military installation. If the person has a warrant out for their arrest, they will escorted away from the property in handcuffs. Those denied access can appeal the decision, particularly if their background check uncovers false information, or if their felony charge is old and out of date. However, such cases will require additional review.
Some workers at Fort Lee are worried that the new system will result in a lot of traffic build-up at the entrance to the base. A Major involved in the implementation of the new system does expect a bit of an increase in congestion. However, the checks are only expected to take about 10 minutes per person, and those who know in advance that they are coming to Fort Lee can apply for visitor’s clearance online. For the most part, visitors will only be required to go through the checks once, and will have clearance to enter the base afterward. However, frequent visitors might expect repeat checks every few months or so.
It makes a lot of sense for military installations to protect their people and their assets in this fashion. Numerous bases throughout the country have already implemented checks like this, and we can expect the trend to continue in the years to come. Suffice to say that, with instant background check technology improving, there is really no reason for checks like these not to be run.