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Naval Support Activity Bethesda (NSAB) is implementing new security practices and procedures at the installation’s gates as a result of a recent rise in “gate runner” incidents.

“A gate runner is someone who tries to gain access to the installation without authorization,” said NSAB Acting Security Director and Antiterrorism Officer Michael Robinson.

Robinson explained that there are two types of gate runners.

“It can be a hostile gate runner, which is an individual who doesn’t stop for any of the security measures put in place to prevent a gate runner scenario, including active barriers and police officers,” he said. “Those are the ones that concern us the most, because those are the ones that could cause potential harm to the base or individuals that are on the base.”

“Then, you have non-hostile gate runners, which are individuals who just don’t understand the proper way to access the base. They may have taken a wrong turn on the base and ignored the sentry who is standing there, or they could be someone who miscommunicated with the sentry and kept going and tried to gain access to the base.”

Over the last three weeks, there have been approximately a half dozen gate runner incidents, said Robinson. While all of the events have been non-hostile in intent they have caused the NSAB Security and Police Departments to review the procedures of how drivers should approach a gate at the installation. Robinson described how the scene should look.

“When you come to the gate and see a sentry, he or she is going to motion you to them. Try to make eye contact, so they can guide you to where they are. Then, they will check your ID card and give a quick glance in your vehicle to make sure you are not under duress and then send you on your way. Generally, interaction with cars should be three to five seconds.”

To reduce the number of gate runner incidents and promote safety and security at the gates, the installation is implementing a few changes, said Robinson.

“There has been some change to traffic coming onboard the installation in the morning,” he said. “We still have the lanes open with normal operation from 5-8 a.m., but then all inbound lanes will go down to one lane.”

NSAB Chief of Police Lt. Col. Jack Bieger said the single lane traffic, along with other new security measures, should reduce the risk of having a gate runner.

“I’ve instructed the shift personnel on the use of different hand signals that will hopefully eliminate the chance of a miscommunication between driver and sentry. They are also instructed to always make eye contact with the driver,” said Bieger. “We put electronic signs out to caution drivers to slow and stop for the sentry, but it is still the driver’s responsibility.”

Bieger said it’s all about driver awareness and keeping visitors to the base safe.

“We have to establish a driver’s intent in visiting the installation. We’re not here to hamper the staff, patients and visitors, but we are here to keep them safe, and we do that by considering the worst case scenario.”

Robinson agreed, and said the new practices and procedures at the gate should increase base security.

“We understand that there have been changes, due to the incidents that have occurred recently,” said Robinson. “But, we are hoping that the changes are for good. We ask for your patience and understanding. Overall, we want to ensure that the people who are onboard the installation are safe and secure.”