- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 27, 2001

The Pentagon is looking for a little help from neighboring police agencies to boost security around the building a move that runs counter to reports of other armed forces' bases terminating agreements with local police agencies.
The Pentagon's Defense Protective Service and Arlington County Police Department officials are negotiating an agreement that would allow both parties to expand their jurisdictional borders in some small way.
"We want to maintain the tight security around the base. We're looking at a lot of options, and this [agreement] is one of them," said Department of Defense (DOD) spokesman Glenn Flood.
Arlington County Police, who initiated the talks in 1996, are eager to lend a hand to the Pentagon provided they can get past the legal barriers handcuffing the military and the local police agency. They would like to aid Pentagon officers in protecting the military headquarters and get some assistance in protecting the properties surrounding the Pentagon.
"We started talking to the Pentagon in 1996. In a letter, we expressed concern for properties around the Pentagon jurisdiction," said Detective Jim Page, spokesman for Arlington police.
The Defense Protective Service would give limited authority to Arlington police to act on crimes near the base perimeters, Detective Page said.
"The Pentagon would remain the primary law-enforcement authority on the base," he said. "But Arlington police would be able to act if we were the first to witness any criminal activity."
This is in stark contrast to what Army, Navy and Air Force bases are doing with their civilian police officers in the D.C. metropolitan area.
The Washington Times recently reported that officials at Walter Reed Army Medical Center backed out of a three-year memorandum of understanding in late November with the Metropolitan Police Department, reducing the police powers of their civilian officers.
The civilian police force guarding Walter Reed subsequently had its police powers weakened under the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act an act prohibiting military officers from enacting laws against civilians. The police union's position is that this act does not apply to civilian officers.
Over a three-week period after Walter Reed rescinded the agreement, 15 persons with revoked licenses, two persons possessing marijuana and one driver under the influence of alcohol were released. All of the violators had been apprehended on Walter Reed property by Department of Defense police officers and released under the act.
"Why after September 11, when everyone is trying to enhance security, would you want to tie the hands of police officers who are already working on the bases?" asked Officer Patrick Hayes, Walter Reed labor committee vice chairman.
Arlington police are hopeful that DOD will give Pentagon police some leeway to back up county officers on major crimes. But Detective Page said they too are having problems getting around military codes like the Posse Comitatus, as well as federal and Virginia State laws, which are specific about setting guidelines for police powers.
"Virginia code prohibits state and county officers from enforcing federal laws," Detective Page said.
But he said the Assimilative Crimes Act could counteract the Posse Comitatus, without being specific as to how.
"We are trying to get our county attorneys and the DOD lawyers to work together to develop a legal document we can use to benefit both parties," Detective Page said.
The negotiations were going nowhere fast until after the September 11 attacks, when both parties decided to take a hard look at increasing security, Detective Page said.

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