Gate guards thwart drugs entering base

Raymond Woods, US Protect guard, inspects a commercial vehicle Wednesday at the front gate prior to it being allowed to enter base. All commercial vehicles go through this process.

Raymond Woods, US Protect guard, inspects a commercial vehicle Wednesday at the front gate prior to it being allowed to enter base. All commercial vehicles go through this process.

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- US Protect gate guards have busted eight people trying to enter base possessing drugs in February alone. 

“There has been a 75 percent increase in bust compared from last year at this time,” said Capt. Keri Walker, 16th Security Forces Squadron operations officer. 

The majority of people getting bust civilian contractors who work on base and have controlled substances in their vehicles,. 

“I know what signs to look for,” said Sgt. Theodore Moroney, US Protect. “I have 10 busts under my belt so far this year alone.” 

Sergeant Moroney comes from a law enforcement background. 

The guards are all given control burn training, burning of a small amount of marijuana, which helps them recognize the smell. After guards find anything, they’ll call security forces. If it’s a civilian, they call the Okaloosa County Sheriffs Department. 

“Okaloosa appreciates this, because these bust go against their yearly numbers,” said Lt. Rick Estes, US Protect. 

“When you get three entities working together like we do then maybe contractors will get the idea,” said Sergeant Moroney. “We are the first line of defense and are responsible for everyone that lives and works here.” 

Hurlburt Field’s US Protect team is made up of more than 80 percent prior military or law enforcement. 

“The rent a cop mentality has to go,” said Captain Walker.