by Jennifer Walleman/Fort Leavenworth Lamp
In the coming months, unescorted Fort Leavenworth visitors and contractors who don’t have approved common access cards or Department of Defense identification cards will be required to park, get out of their vehicles and check-in at a new provisional visitor control center for required criminal background checks to gain entry to post.
These changes are to create a unified security and safety presence on posts Armywide in compliance with Army access control policy per guidance from an October letter to all installation commanders from Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno and Secretary of the Army John McHugh.
Officials are looking at running the VCC out of trailers until a more permanent structure can be established at a later date. The trailers will be located in the Mission Training Complex and 35th Infantry Division Headquarters parking lot adjacent to Sherman Gate on the northeast corner of 4th Street and Metropolitan Avenue.
Each vehicle occupant will present a driver’s license or other government photo identification, the vehicle’s registration and insurance, and state their reason for visiting Fort Leavenworth. They will be vetted using the National Crime Information Center Interstate Identification Index background check. Once they have passed the background check, they will receive a day pass and their vehicle will be directed back to the Grant Avenue Gate lanes for post access and possible car inspection.
Jeffrey McCowen, director of Emergency Services, said that there are 11 reasons a person could be denied unescorted access to Fort Leavenworth, according to Army Directive 2014-05. Reasons for denial include having active arrest warrants, being a sex offender or being convicted of a major felony within the last 10 years. There will be an appeal process for those who do not pass the background check.
McCowen said officials don’t know an official date of the VCC opening but he doesn’t see it happening before the end of February.
“If you’re coming to visit or do business on Fort Leavenworth, I don’t expect you to see any major changes to our procedures before the end of February right now, because we really can’t do it until we have some type of structure.”
Once the VCC is operational, Sherman Gate will be closed to all outbound and inbound traffic indefinitely to ease traffic flow from that area.
“Right now our plan is to keep Sherman Gate closed because it’s just going to be unsafe for all that traffic that’s coming out of that parking lot trying to merge in and cut across everybody else to get out,” McCowen said.
The Directorate of Emergency Services is working with the Kansas and Missouri Departments of Transportation and city and county officials to determine how this change may affect traffic flow near post and how best to handle it and determine signage.
McCowen said that for annual large-scale post events that draw high numbers of visitors, such as the post yard sales and Independence Day, according to Army regulation, the commanding general has the authority to classify these events as special and take other mitigation measures such as increased inspections to mitigate the risk of not doing criminal background checks for visitors on these days. McCowen also said that there are no new procedures for funerals entering post and current arrangements will remain in place with funeral homes and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Those guests visiting for longer than a day such as parents staying with a soldier or uncleared contractors like movers, vendors or construction workers, can apply for a Locally Approved Credential for unescorted access through a government sponsor. A sponsor is a person who possesses a DoD ID card, 18 years of age or older and is a soldier, family member, retiree or spouse, civilian employee or contractor who possesses a DoD ID Card. The sponsor is responsible for all actions of their sponsored guest or worker while he or she is on Fort Leavenworth. For official military and installation business, commanders and directors appoint in writing individuals authorized to serve as sponsors for uncleared contractors and official visitors.
This application process can be started now and may take several days to a few weeks to complete. For more information on how to apply, visit http://garrison.leavenworth.army.mil/Newcomers—Visitors/Gate-Information.aspx or visit the DES Dispatch Center at 410 McPherson Ave.
For additional questions regarding installation access and applying for a Locally Approved Credential, contact Jeff Jackson, at DES, 684-3501.